A variety of celebrities came together last week in support of a federal bill to end the suffering of wild and exotic animals in traveling acts in the US.
Actress Kim Matula anchored the virtual event and also appeared in ‘Reluctant Entertainers’, a short ADI film screened during the event, of actors, musicians, and directors calling on Congress to ‘leave the entertaining to those of us who want to perform’. Actresses Chloe East and Jorja Fox also made a guest appearance, urging viewers to take action in support of the bill.
The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA) is sponsored in the House by Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ), and in the Senate by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), with 37 original co-sponsors, and is being championed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which has exposed suffering in US circuses and provided evidence and assistance on the bipartisan bill.
Kim Matula introduced the launch stating, "I can’t look at the circus without thinking of animal abuse, of bullhooks and beatings, and isolation and fear, and young ones being ripped away from their mothers all because someone wants to see that animal do a handstand. But most people don’t think of that part of the circus…
“Today we can make the decision to legally end the suffering forced onto the animals who never got to have a say. And in doing so, give the opportunity to human entertainers, who DO have a say, and who, trust me, want nothing more than to perform.”
Representative Grijalva stated, “As one of the original cosponsors of Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act, I’m proud to support this bipartisan, bicameral bill. At its core, this legislation is simple. It’s about ending the inhumane practice of using exotic or wild creatures for entertainment in traveling circuses and other traveling acts. Traveling animal acts deprive exotic and wild animals of their basic dignity and create a safety hazard for the public. There’s nothing entertaining about seeing animals suffer and the vast majority of Americans agree. It’s past time we updated our antiquated animal welfare laws and prohibited traveling circuses from using exotic and wild animals for human entertainment.”
Representative Schweikert said, "If we want the elegance of the animal kingdom, we want to see in a natural habitat, how they exist in their environment, not jumping through hoops and dancing for us.
“So this is not only just the ethically right thing to do, the safety right thing to do, but I actually think for the future, it’s also the right thing to do.”
Comprehensive research and investigations worldwide show that traveling wild animal acts unacceptably compromise public safety and animal welfare. More than 30 years of evidence and scientific studies demonstrate that traveling shows cannot provide for the physical, behavioral and psychological needs of wild animals. Severe confinement in barren conditions, lack of exercise and restriction of natural behaviors, results in animals prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. Welfare is always compromised.
“Abusing animals for the sake of so-called entertainment has no place in 21st century America,” said Senator Bob Menendez. “It’s well-past time that Congress update our federal laws and the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act is our opportunity to do just that.”
Dr Betsy Coville, DVM: “These wild animals entertain with unnatural tricks only after being beaten, whipped, stabbed, shocked, and chained. These maneuvers involve abnormal, repetitive positions which result in joint damage, osteoarthritis, and perpetual pain, which are tragically documented even after removal from the circus. Not only can they not meet their basic physical needs, but also the behavioral and social requisites. The isolation alone results in boredom, leads to frustration, cage biting, and self-mutilation.”
Jorja Fox said “Some people think that circuses are educational, when in fact all they do is teach people how not to treat animals. They set a terrible example, that it’s ok to keep animals in cages and on chains and deprive them of a natural life, of social interaction, of enrichment, of families, of sustainable habitats. All of this simply for people’s amusement.”
Resent years have seen increased support for wild animal bans in traveling acts, with 2/3 of Americans troubled by the use of animals in traveling shows. More than 100 jurisdictions in 34 US states have already decided to either ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling shows due to concerns about public safety and animal welfare, as well as state-wide bans in New Jersey, Hawaii, California, and Colorado. Internationally, 48 nations have also taken action and ended wild animal performances.
Chloe East said, “We have such an incredible entertainment industry here with movies, TV, the performing arts, and so much more. We just don’t need animals to be abused in the name of entertainment.”
ADI supports human-performance circuses, which are popular, provide employment, and stimulate the economy, without exposing citizens to stressed and abused animals.
ANIMAL PROTECTION GROUPS UNITED BEHIND TEAPSPA: Animal Defenders International, Alliance For Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection and Rescue League, Animal Rights Coalition, BEATCA – Ban of Exotic Animals in Travelling Circus Acts, Big Cat Rescue, Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, Colorado Voters for Animals, Free All Captive Elephants – FACE, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Last Chance for Animals, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, Lions Tigers & Bears, Marin Humane, National Park Rescue, Nonhuman Rights Project, North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare, Northwest Animal Rights Network, Oceanic Preservation Society, Palo Alto Humane Society, Partners in Animal Protection and Conservation, Peace 4 Animals, Roadside Zoo News, Save Nosey Now, Social Compassion In Legislation, The Elephant Advocacy Project, Utah Animal Rights Coalition, Western Mass. Animal Rights Advocates, and World Animal News.