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San Francisco poised to ban performances by exotic animals

San Francisco could become largest US city with a comprehensive wild animal performance ban

San Francisco poised to ban performances by exotic animals

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco is poised to ban performances using bears, lions, elephants and other wild animals and join dozens of other places that have some kind of prohibition on using exotic animals for entertainment.

Advocates and opponents agree that San Francisco would be the largest city in the U.S. to enact such a comprehensive prohibition that goes beyond the circus, for example, and applies to the filming of movies and television shows.

The ordinance, which is expected to get final approval Tuesday from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would apply also apply backyard birthday parties.

Cats, dogs and other domesticated pets are exempt, as are animals used for educational purposes.

"The thing to note about the legislation is that it's trying to protect against abuse of animals," said San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, lead sponsor of the ordinance.

Tang said it's not natural for a bear to balance on a ball. And most likely, she added, that bear has been denied food, scared and tormented to train it to balance on a ball.

The nonprofit group Performing Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, said there are about three dozen cities or counties that prohibit the display of performing wild animals.

In addition, Los Angeles and Oakland, California, outlawed the use of steel-tipped "bullhooks" to prod and strike elephants.

Concern over the treatment of elephants has grown so much that Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, announced in March it would phase out elephant acts by 2018.

Feld spokesman Stephen Payne called the ordinance "completely unnecessary" and said that if animal lovers really want to root out abuse, they should lobby for more inspections.

The San Francisco ordinance would prohibit animals such as monkeys, bears, dolphins, seals, raccoons and otters from being required to do tricks, spar or otherwise perform for an audience. Reptiles smaller than 8 feet (2.4 meters) long are not considered wild animals, and are exempt.

The Motion Picture Association of America submitted a letter opposing the ordinance, saying it would curb filming of well-treated animal performers.


AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

Updated : 2021-09-21 04:51 GMT+08:00