Exotic Animals

White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators has introduced legislation to protect wild and exotic animals by prohibiting their appearance at circuses and similar shows.

The proposed legislation, introduced Monday, would prohibit performances of big cats like lions and tigers; elephants; monkeys and apes; alligators and crocodiles; and other species, at circuses, carnivals, and other traveling and trade shows.

Similar laws are already in place across the country. California, New Jersey and Hawaii have adopted such measures statewide, as have New York City and the Town of Greenburgh among dozens of other local municipalities.

Legislator Damon Maher, (D- Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe), sponsor of the new legislation, said, "These animals don't show up at circus offices looking for work. They don’t choose to live in cages. They are made to jump through hoops literally, often through the use of cruel, physically coercive techniques. In some cases, stressed animals have even broken free, endangering the public. With this legislation, Westchester finally will be joining the ranks of those states, counties, cities and countries who have acted to end the misuse of these creatures.”

Legislator Margaret Cunzio (C - Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pleasantville), said, “Circuses are wonderful entertainment for families, with clowns and acrobats and other acts. We don’t need to force wild animals to perform for us, and we need to be a voice for animals who can’t speak for themselves. In addition to the aggressive training techniques that may be inflicted on them, wild animals in touring shows are confined and hauled from town to town, sometimes in extreme weather conditions, living apart from their natural habitats and social settings. This affects their health and their emotional well-being. That’s not the kind of ‘entertainment’ we want as an example for our children.”

The Board will begin consideration of the legislation in committee meetings shortly.