Bye, Bye, Big Top? Mexico’s Congress Just Voted to Ban Circus Animals

To go into effect, the legislation needs the president’s signature.

A worker gives water to a tiger in a cage at the Atayde Hermanos Circus in Mexico City on Aug. 8. (Photo: Henry Romero/Reuters)

Dec 12, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

For circuses in Mexico, human jugglers and acrobats soon might have to do.

Six months after the capital passed similar legislation that’s slated to go into effect next year, Mexico’s congress on Thursday voted to prohibit animals under big tops across the country. That means no more tigers jumping through hoops, elephants used as props, or monkeys dressed in tiny outfits.

The bill requires circuses to report the wildlife they own, which would then be made available to interested zoos, reported The Associated Press.

“The use of animals in circuses provides no educational value to viewers, or acts as conservation of fauna,” reads an opinion issued by the Environment Committee of the House of Representatives.

Six states have already enforced similar rules, which are also aimed at preventing human deaths. But as advocates support the move, circus owners and the workers the bans are designed to protect have spoken out against them, arguing that ending the Mexican tradition will put thousands out of work.

In an interview with The New York Times in June, National Union of Circus Owners and Performers President Armando Cedeño said, “We know how to put on a show without animals, but people don’t want to see it. People say they would prefer to see a horse rather than the best trapeze artist.”

A global study found that on average, animals who work in circuses spend at least 90 percent of their time in cages or enclosures that are a fraction of the size recommended for zoos, resulting in poor quality of life. Animal Defenders International lists 28 countries that have nationwide bans on the use of wildlife in circuses. According to the organization, in the United States, only 21 states have municipalities with partial or full bans.

The bill to enforce a nationwide prohibition of circus animals in Mexico, which now needs the signature of President Enrique Peña Nieto to become a law, is expected to affect 592 circuses.