FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 20, 2016

Contact: John Blasco, (212) 788-7366,


Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Animal Rights Advocates call for the passage of a bill that would ban the display of wild or exotic animals in New York City


New York – On Thursday, October 20th 2016 New York City Councilmember Rosie Mendez joined Christina Scaringe, Animal Defenders International; Joyce Friedman, The Humane Society of the United States; Catherine Doyle, M.S., Director of Science, Research & Advocacy, Performing Animal Welfare Society; Maragret Whittaker, Animal Behavior Consultant on Positive Reinforcement and Enrichment, and many other advocates to call on the City Council to pass Intro 1233.

Intro 1233 would require New York City to prohibit the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement. The proposed legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez in all three of her legislative terms beginning in April 2006, does have exemptions to the bill that includes zoos, museums, conservatories; animals displayed for religious purposes, domesticated and companion animals.

Intro 1233 is about safety and security for the animals and the public. Animals meant to be in the wild are not born to perform tricks and their instincts can have dangerous results. We should not continue to sustain a harsh and hazardous industry simply because it is a tradition. Intro 1233 currently has 9 other Council Members as co-sponsors who are looking to mandate protections and keep unnecessary performances out of our city.

“I’m excited to get a hearing after 10 years of proposing legislation that would ban the display of wild or exotic animals now known as Intro 1233,” said NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. “I want to thank Councilmember Corey Johnson for co-introducing this bill with me. Intro 1233 is and always has been about the safety and security of animals and human beings. This bill is a step in ensuring that animals are in their natural state, not confined in boxcars or treated in other inhumane ways and thereby protecting humans from animals that might and have acted ferociously.”

“We now know more about the proper treatment of wild and exotic animals than we did in the past,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Entertainment alone is not an excuse to put these animals through more than they ever should have to endure. As a City, it’s easy to say that we value the proper treatment of animals. The difficult part is ensuring that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent animal mistreatment. I thank Council Member Rosie Mendez for her leadership on this issue, as well as our colleagues in the Council and countless advocates who have joined with us in this effort.”

“Animal Defenders International was honored to work with Councilwoman Mendez on this measure to protect wild animals and New York citizens from cruel and dangerous traveling acts. There is no humane existence for wild animals under this business model. The reality is a life of severe confinement, physical & psychological deprivation, extensive transport, brutal & violent control methods, inconsistent oversight, and a public very much unaware of the potential risk. Agencies admit federal regulations aren’t working; public safety is left to cities like New York. Banning wild animals isn’t the end of the circus. Human performance circuses are popular – they require labor, create jobs, and bring dollars to your city without the attendant risks of chronically stressed, abused animals. We encourage New York to join other world-class cities like Barcelona, Bogotá, Rio, San Francisco, Singapore, and 33 diverse nations that have acted in this regard,” said Christina Scaringe, General Counsel, Animal Defenders International.

“It’s 2016, New Yorkers don’t want to see elephants or other wildlife tortured or abused for entertainment. It’s wonderful that Council Member Mendez’s bill to protect these majestic creatures is finally being heard at City Hall and I look forward to its swift passage,” said John Phillips, east villager, former executive director New York League of Humane Voters and long-time animal advocate.

“Animals in circuses and other traveling displays live in unending misery, deprivation, long-term confinement and grueling travel schedules. They are trained to perform unnatural “tricks” through punishment and pain. Circuses with willing human performers are wonderful and welcome in NYC, but it’s time to eliminate all the animal acts. No animal should suffer for the sake of entertainment. We commend the leadership of Council Member Rosie Mendez who is a champion of this bill and Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson for holding a hearing on this important legislation,” said Joyce Friedman, NYC Coordinator, The Humane Society of the United States.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said “Unlike human entertainers, animals do not choose the circus life; they are kept imprisoned and forced to take part in the show. The inhumane conditions are compounded by the threat their presence poses to public safety. Wild animals are inherently unpredictable and incapable of being tamed, and such close proximity to the public creates a serious risk. Animal-free shows, like Cirque du Soleil, will still be welcome in the city, and neither the economic strength nor the vibrant culture of NYC will suffer a loss.”

“Friends of Animals strongly supports passage of Int. 1223 to prohibit the display and exhibition of wild and exotic animals in New York City.  Animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, bears, alligators, monkeys and apes shouldn’t suffer to entertain us in the year 2016.  The New York City Council should pass Int. 1233 to assure that New York City has a humane standard regarding the treatment of wild animals held for commercial purposes,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports legislation in New York City to protect wild and exotic animals from the misery and indignity that public performance entails for far too many animals,” said Jeff Pierce, Legislative Counsel, The Animal Legal Defense Fund. “New York City should join San Francisco and privilege the needs of wild animals above the rapidly dwindling public demand for the silly tricks and inhumane lives that animals forced to perform must endure.”

“Perhaps in the past society did not recognize or know enough about the sad plight of wild animals. We can no longer escape what we now do know—that wild animals have inherent needs of their own that cannot be met when they are severely confined, chained, or forced to do tricks. There is nothing amusing or entertaining about the suffering of animals and the NYC Council has the opportunity to do something about it by passing Int. No. 1233. We thank the Council for their support,” said Elinor Molbegott, Legal Counsel/Animal Issues, Humane Society of New York.

“Protests outside circuses and SeaWorld have proved that today’s public simply doesn’t want to see animals used and abused in the entertainment industry—and lawmakers are taking notice. Towns, cities, and even states across the country have banned the weapons that circuses use to beat elephants into submission or made it illegal to cage and whip tigers under the big top. New York City’s proposed law could not be timelier or have more public support, and PETA looks forward to seeing a kinder future for exotic animals in the five boroughs,” said Rachel Mathews, PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement.

“Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), Long Island’s largest animal advocacy organization, strongly supports the proposed ordinance to prohibit the commercial display or performance of wild and exotic animals in New York City. Confining intelligent, sensitive live animals to tiny enclosures and threatening them with whips and bullhooks sends the dangerous anti-conservationist message that wild animals are ours to dominate, display, and use for profit–not any message we should be teaching our children,” said John Di Leonardo, President and Anthrozoologist, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION).

With this forward-thinking legislation, the Council rightly rejects the inherent cruelty involved in the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement, and in doing so, promotes the interests of New York City’s urban wildlife. Rather than providing an educational opportunity, exposing children to circuses normalizes the exploitation of others and teaches that it is appropriate to confine, abuse, and gawk at non-humans and to put their most trivial interests ahead of the fundamental interests of others. At the same time, urban wildlife in New York City is in need of appreciation, attention, and protection, and the presence of these free-living animals provides a meaningful opportunity for New Yorkers to learn about and engage with wildlife in a way that artificial experiences like marching elephants down city streets can never satisfy, ,” said David Karopkin, GooseWatch NYC.

“For generations, using, and abusing, wildlife for entertainment was an acceptable part of our culture,” said Erika Mansourian, Executive Director, Elephant Family-USA. “But as awareness of the intellectual and emotional sophistication and complexity of animals has grown–backed by copious research–it has become clear to a compassionate society that allowing such archaic and barbaric practices is intolerable. Passing Intro Bill 1233 will allow New York City to join the many other cities and countries around the world that have passed similar legislation.”




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