Mexico City is the latest in a growing list of places where the use of animals in circuses has been banned. Earlier this month, the Mexico City Council overwhelmingly approved the prohibition, which carries fines of $45,000 to $60,000. Mexico City joins six of Mexico’s 32 states that have now banned circus animals, reports the Global News.
The law also bans the use of animals in advertisements, prizes, lotteries and many other activities which require what it is described as "a change in the environment, feeding or natural instinct of the animals,” according to International Business Times.
The Mexico City law does not include bull fighting or water shows using dolphins. It also does not prohibit the use of animals in Mexico’s traditional rodeos, known as “charreadas.”
Anima Naturalis, one of the groups calling for the ban, points to the cruelty involved in training the exotic animals to perform circus acts that are unnatural and often dangerous, in addition to the fact that they are often subjected to long periods of uncomfortable transport and kept in small, cramped enclosures.
Circuses claim that the charges of inhumane treatment are unfounded and that the animals enjoy performing.
More than 1,000 circus employees marched through the streets of the capital city, protesting that they and thousands more will be left unemployed by the ban, the International Business Times reports.
Armando Cedeno, President of the national circus association, said the bam would affect about 50,000 circus employees and 3,000 to 3,500 animals. ''It is impossible to take these animals back to their natural habitat because they would die,'' Cedeno said.
Isaid Berti, an animal trainer, was quoted by AFP as saying: "We have already demonstrated that we do not harm our animals. They are part of our family!" However, he acknowledged that animal abuse does happen in some circuses and suggested an inspection system for the city's estimated 50 circuses, according to the IB Times.
In a press conference, Jesus Sesma, the politician credited with passage of the law, described it as promoting "a respect for living beings who are not human.”
Circuses in Mexico City will have one year to change their acts and substitute acts by clowns, acrobats and other performers for animals.
The Fuentes Gasca Brothers Circus which has performed in Mexico City for five generations already sees attendance dwindling drastically as animal-rights groups educate the public and the media about the plight of circus animals, reports the Denver Post.
Nationwide bans on circus animals have swept through Latin America recently. Fuentes and others in his circus believe the Mexico City ban will be followed by a federal ban.