The Show Must Go On? Circus Continues at County Center
Articles and Media Coverage From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.


The Show Must Go On? Circus Continues at County Center

January 11, 2019

**NOTE** This article has one inaccuracy: 

The article states, "ADOW did not make any attempts to get former County Executive Rob Astorino to issue the Executive Order because, as one animal rights supporter told us: "Look, if Astorino was allowing gun shows at the County Center, we didn't think he would ban the circus." The fact is ADOW never asked Astorino to do an Executive Order because we did not know about them.  These orders caught our attention when Latimer began issuing them. Had we known about about them we DEFINITELY would have asked Astorino. ADOW had an excellent working relationship with his admin AND with Spano's before him - and there is never a reason to not ask, never; 'not asking' is frankly the dumbest thing we can imagine.

The Show Must Go On? Circus Continues at County Center
By Dan Murphy 

The Royal Hanneford Circus has returned to the Westchester County Center for another set of shows coming in February, with animal rights groups upset that nothing has been done in county government to ban the circus from performing in a county-owned building, or anywhere in Westchester.   
Kiley Blackman, founder of Animal Defenders of Westchester (, said her organization has been trying since 2004 to get action from county government to ban the circus in Westchester, and the alleged animal abuse that comes with it.
“You can travel 50 miles in any direction from Westchester and the circus is banned,” she said. “They have banned it in New York City, in New Jersey and in two cities in Connecticut. It’s a disgrace that here in Westchester, the circus continues. We have received no action from county government. All it would take is an executive order. We also have seen no action from the Board of Legislators.” 
ADOW did not make any attempts to get former County Executive Rob Astorino to issue the executive order because, as one animal rights supporter told us: “Look, if Astorino was allowing gun shows at the County Center, we didn’t think he would ban the circus. Our focus for more than 10 years has been to try and get something coming from the County Board of Legislators.” 
New York State recently passed the Elephant Protection Act, banning circus elephants from performances in the state, effective this year. 
“Circuses with wild animal acts are inhumane, outdated, and for very good reason finally being banned,” wrote Westchester resident Rebecca Sunshine in a letter to our papers last year. “Elephants are highly intelligent, social animals who never signed up for show business, are kept out of their natural environment, painfully prodded with bull hooks, and confi ned and transported in terrible conditions. Animals should never be mistreated and abused for the sake of our entertainment, and it is quite unfortunate that the Hanneford Circus is still permitted to perform in Westchester County.”
Blackman also expressed her frustration in a letter to our papers last year, writing:
“Why do we need to see such a magnificent animal stand on her head and do stupid, unnatural tricks – like the heartbreaking video of elephants running to help their friend who’s fallen off a circus pyramid of stools? Aren’t animals’ lives worth more than an hour of people eating popcorn and laughing at them? Look beyond the popcorn. Thank heaven we are evolving toward decency and a far more compassionate, responsible world, but not fast enough in Westchester. 
“Circuses and rodeos, already wonderfully banned in Greenburgh for several years, were just totally banned in New York City – and the entire New Jersey State Legislature voted them out; unfortunately the bill wasn’t signed by former Gov Christie, who also refused to sign a bill stopping sad, miserable extreme confi nement crates for pigs,” continued Blackman.  “In fact, we would have a bill right here, if not for a do nothing, lying, negligent BOL who can only find the time to figure out who gets the biggest cut of money for Playland. For almost three years, (Legislator) Margaret Cunzio (who calls herself an ‘animal advocate’ to get votes) deliberately misled constituents on this issue. 
“Indeed, we have asked County Executive Latimer to ban these horrible animal acts as he did the gun shows, etc., having no faith in the BOL’s word any more. It isn’t just circuses and rodeos. (Former) Legislator Jim Maisano proposed a bill to get puppy mills out of Westchester pet shops three years ago – and that’s DOA.
“If new BOL Chairman Ben Boykins means it when he claims he will be making the BOL ‘more progressive,’ we request and expect, as taxpaying resident constituents of Westchester, that he will join the rest of the world by including animal advocacy issues in this, one of the richest counties in the U.S.
“All animal ‘businesses,’ be it circuses, rodeos, zoos, etc., are run for profit like any other business; when overhead and cost are factors, the animals lose – always,” concluded Blackman. “Just like the elderly and children, the animals are the most easily victimized. They are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment. Don’t express sorrow over your sad lost ‘entertainment,.’ Everyone is empowered now – women, minorities, LGBTQ, etc. – the most voiceless of all, the animals, will not be left out.” 
Banning circus’ or requiring animal-free circus’ is happening across the country and the world. The famous Barnum and Bailey Circus performed its last circus at Madison Square Garden in 2017.
“Using wild animals in circuses is a recipe for disaster, putting animals and the public in harm’s way,” said Animal Defenders International President Jan Creamer. “ADI calls on governments around the world without bans in place to end wild animal acts without delay and stop circus suffering.”

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WESTCHESTER4GEESE is an adjunct of ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER. We advocate against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation, including hunting, experimentation, fur, circuses and rodeos -