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bans on circuses 

Countries, states, cities and towns have started restricting the use of wild animals in circuses 

Over the years, there has been growing public disapproval about the use of wild animals in entertainment. This concern is shown by the impact of the film Blackfish and the decline in SeaWorld attendance after its release, the closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the passage of statewide bans on the use of wild animals in traveling acts in New Jersey, Hawaii, and California.
 
Lions, tigers, bears, and elephants are wild animals – sensitive species whose needs as mammals no circus can meet. This inability for circuses to properly care for these animals has been recognized in over 40 countries around the world, where (some or all) wild animals have become prohibited for use in circuses and other traveling acts; in Canada, there are local bans on the use of animals in circuses in over 33 municipal jurisdictions.

In the U.S., there are six states and over 150 localities (cities, towns, and counties) that have passed various restrictions or bans involving the use of wild animals in circuses. In addition, Colorado has introduced a state bill to ban exotic animals in circuses, along with Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, the bill would ban the use of big cats, bears, primates, elephants, and giraffes in all traveling exhibits and shows.

In December 2018, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows, and less than a week later Hawaii passed a similar groundbreaking rule. In 2019, California banned the use of all animals in circuses, except for dogs, cats, and domesticated horses.

In 2017, Illinois and New York banned the use of elephants in traveling shows, and Rhode Island banned the use of bullhooks, a cruel elephant training device resembling a fireplace poker, in 2016.

UNited States

Bans or restrictions involving the use of wild animals
in circuses and/or traveling shows in the U.S.
(statewide listed first, followed by cities/towns/counties)

  • Arkansas: Eureka Springs
  • California: Statewide ban on the use of all animals in circuses (except for dogs, cats, and domesticated horses)
  • Colorado: Boulder, Loveland, Timnath
  • Connecticut: Bridgeport, Stamford
  • Florida: Citrus County, Destin, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Margate, Mary Esther, Miami Beach, Okaloosa County, Panama City, Pompano Beach, Sebring
  • Georgia: Baldwin County, Coweta County, Fulton County, Union City
  • Hawaii: Statewide ban on importing dangerous wild animals for circuses or carnivals
  • Idaho: Blaine County, Ketchum
  • Illinois: Statewide ban on the use of elephants in traveling shows
  • Indiana: Beech Grove, Bloomington, Munster, Whiting
  • Iowa: Ames, Burlington, Roland
  • Kansas: Olathe, Wyandotte County
  • Kentucky: Grant County, Kenton County, Louisville
  • Maine: Bar Harbor, Portland
  • Maryland: Montgomery County
  • Massachusetts: Braintree, Cambridge, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Provincetown, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Weymouth
  • Michigan: St Clair Shores
  • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Mississippi: Statewide ban on temporary exhibits allowing public contact with most wild animals; Biloxi, Brandon, Clinton, Crystal Springs, D'Iberville, Flowood, Gulfport, Horn Lake, Jackson, Meridian, Ridgeland, Southaven, West Point
  • Missouri: Richmond
  • Montana: Missoula
  • Nebraska: Bellevue
  • New Jersey: Statewide ban on the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows
  • New Mexico: Las Cruces, Santa Fe
  • New York: Statewide ban on the use of elephants in entertainment acts, statewide ban on public contact with big cats and with endangered or threatened species, including elephant rides
  • North Carolina: Asheville, Chapel Hill, Orange County
  • Ohio: Delaware
  • Oklahoma: El Reno, Mustang
  • Oregon: Benton County, Clatsop County, Multnomah County
  • Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh
  • Rhode Island: Statewide ban on the use of bullhooks or other similar pain inflicting devices on elephants
  • South Carolina: Aiken County, Edgefield County, Spartanburg
  • Tennessee: Germantown, Oliver Springs
  • Texas: Aransas Pass, Austin, Corpus Christi, Denton, Killeen, Marion, Nolanville
  • Utah: Helper, Huntington, Layton City
  • Vermont: Burlington
  • Virginia: Charlottesville, Fairfax, King George County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William County, Richmond, Salem, Spotsylvania County
  • Washington: Darrington, Port Townsend, Redmond, Snohomish, Spokane
  • Wisconsin: Dane County

Other countries

Bans or restrictions on the use of wild animals
in circuses and/or traveling acts outside the U.S.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • England
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Scotland
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan