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Bill Summary
Location Bill  Title  Date  Category
Massachusetts  MA - Somerville 2010   City ordinance banning display of exotic animals in circuses and carnivals  2/2/2010  Passed

MSPCA-Angell Press Release

The MSPCA Commends Somerville Officials for Exotic Animal Ordinance

February 2, 2010

Inhumane Treatment of Circus, Carnival Animals Banned

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) congratulates the city of Somerville for becoming the latest community in the Commonwealth to pass an ordinance banning the display of exotic animals in circuses and carnivals. 

“The Somerville ordinance will prevent the cruel display of exotic animals in these venues and avert the public health and safety consequences that can result,” said Linda Huebner, the MSPCA’s Deputy Director of Advocacy. “The MSPCA commends Somerville’s Aldermen, especially ordinance co-sponsors, William Roche and Rebekah Gewirtz for creating a more humane community. We also thank Mayor Joseph Curtatone for signing this important legislation into law, which becomes effective immediately.”

The MSPCA opposes the use of wild animals and other traveling wild animal acts in circuses. Animals in these shows can undergo extreme suffering while providing a false image of their natural behavior. In these acts, animals are usually chained while not performing, live in restrictive caging and travel constantly. Animals are subjected to coercive training methods, such as the sharp bullhook used on elephants. Basic physical needs are also often not met, and wild animals in particular have no chance to fulfill normal behavioral and social needs. 

Wild animals are forced to perform in ways inconsistent with their natural behaviors and physical capabilities, in actions that, at times, are dangerous for them. These performances not only cause stress and may injure the animals; they also promote a false perception of both the nature of the animals and their relationship with people. Audiences are not encouraged to learn about or respect the complex, natural behavior and abilities of these animals; instead they are taught to perceive the animals as objects that must be dominated, capable only of the tricks their handlers teach them. 

Few legal protections exist for animals displayed in circuses. Somerville joins several other Massachusetts municipalities, including Weymouth, Revere, Quincy, Braintree, and Provincetown, that have adopted similar ordinances.

“I’m extremely proud that Somerville has taken this important step to protect animals,” said Franklin Street resident and MSPCA Overseer Dorie Clark. “This humane and forward-thinking ordinance shows why Somerville is truly an ‘All-America City.’”

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