Animal Defenders International (ADI) is celebrating as San Francisco Board of Supervisors cast their final vote today, unanimously approving a ban on wild animal performances in the city. The ordinance’s stated intent is to “protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment and to protect the public from the danger posed by the use of wild and exotic animals for entertainment.” ADI congratulates the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their leadership, especially Supervisor Katy Tang, the main sponsor, who sees this as a step toward building momentum for a similar state wide ban or even a national ban in the US.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We congratulate the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their leadership which will inspire further victories as other cities, states and eventually Congress votes to protect captive wildlife forced to perform in traveling circuses. Due to severe confinement, lack of free exercise, and the restriction of natural behaviors, animals used in traveling circuses suffer and are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. The days of animals suffering in traveling circuses are numbered, not just here in the US but all over the world.”

ADI has reached out to Supervisor Tang, offering our congratulations and support to help with these broader goals, towards which ADI is already making significant progress. With now retired Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), ADI has introduced federal legislation, The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, which aims to ban the use of wild and exotic animals from performing in travelling circuses in the US. We are actively looking for a new sponsor for this bill, and have also met with many California State Legislators looking for a champion to head up state legislation that has already been drafted through Legislative Counsel.

By adopting this legislation, San Francisco joins at least 51 cities and counties in the United States that have restricted the use of wild animals in traveling circuses. Late last year Mexico and the Netherlands passed bans on wild animals in circuses, and in January, Bulgaria became the 31st country around the world with protections for circus animals. ADI is actively working in many other cities across the country and in the states of Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and New York which have all introduced similar proposed legislation.


Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut or chained in cages, trailers and train cars. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.

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