On July 31, the Santa Fe Finance Committee voted to pass a proposed ban on wild animal acts. The measure will now go before the full City Council for approval, tentatively scheduled for September 13. See article below from the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Finance Committee OKs circus ban proposal
By Tripp Stelnicki | The New Mexican
Jul 31, 2017 Updated Jul 31, 2017
A city councilor’s proposal to ban traveling wild-animal acts from performing in Santa Fe cleared its first hurdle Monday night, gaining approval from the city Finance Committee without discussion.
Councilor Signe Lindell brought forth legislation earlier this summer that would prohibit circuses, petting zoos, animal acts and other exhibits that include wild or exotic animals.
Councilor Peter Ives joined as co-sponsor of the proposal Monday before it was forwarded to the full City Council.
A fiscal analysis of the ordinance showed it would have a negligible financial impact on the city — namely the loss of roughly $300 in fees associated with a presumed single circus event per year.
The proposal, aligned with a growing international movement to ban circuses featuring animal acts, has drawn voluminous response from both enthusiastic supporters, who say it is long overdue, and eye-rolling opponents, who have voiced skepticism about some of the exemptions in the draft ordinance.
According to Animal Defenders International, a London-based animal welfare and conservation advocacy group, 71 jurisdictions across the U.S. have enacted a full or partial ban on circus animals, most prominently New York City and Los Angeles. Many European countries have instituted such bans.
A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year would prohibit wild or exotic animal performances in traveling circuses — not the first attempt at a federal intervention in the treatment of circus animals.
Lindell’s legislation carves out a specific exception for rodeos in Santa Fe, which annually hosts a long-running rodeo event.
The north-side District 1 councilor, who has not yet announced whether she will seek a second four-year term next year, has said there is a simple reason for that: The measure would not pass, in her view, if rodeos were included.
Circuses and traveling wild-animal acts are Lindell’s “sole focus” with regard to this animal-welfare proposal, she said.
Asked why her proposed ordinance avoids picking a fight with rodeos or other sorts of animal entertainment, she said, “Symbolic battles don’t help exotic animals that are being mistreated and abused.”
Advocates, in online comments and letters to the editor in The New Mexican, have lauded the proposal as an enlightened and compassionate measure.
“If people could just see how some of these magnificent animals have been treated, they would clearly understand the tragedy that goes on with training a wild animal to ‘perform’ for our pleasure,” wrote Santa Fe resident Irene Kraas.
Skeptics have zeroed in on various aspects of the proposal, some expressing sarcastic indifference, others dissatisfied with the exemptions.
“Is this an issue the city needs to address?” resident Stefanie Beninato commented on The New Mexican site. “And why be hypocritical and ban circuses but not rodeos? And what about the pet parade where animals are paraded through noisy city streets?”
Alan Edmonds, cruelty case manager for Animal Protection of New Mexico, said the Albuquerque-based nonprofit would gladly support and advocate for measures that would address rodeos, equestrian entertainment and others.
But the Santa Fe circus ban, he said, is a promising first step down that road.
Separate from what animal rights groups might like to see in an ideal sense, Edmonds said, “This measure in and of itself is a good idea.”
“No animal deserves to be harmed, tortured or used for entertainment purposes, whether it’s a circus, rodeo or any other kind of event,” Edmonds added. “We’re against any kind of animal entertainment. But this is an extremely easy and publicly supported decision the city of Santa Fe can make.”
The ordinance is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the full City Council on Sept. 13.