Ed Stewart, of the Galt-based Performing Animal Welfare Society, was on Capitol Hill this week to launch a bill aimed at changing how animals are used in the name of entertainment in America. He was joined by renowned celebrity animal protectionist Bob Barker, actress Jorja Fox and representatives of Animal Defenders International.
The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act is a historic first for the U.S., according to a press release.
The bill aims to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses, effectively bringing to an end the random cruelty and neglect associated with some circuses of this nature.
"Americans are becoming increasingly aware that circus animals suffer from violent training techniques and severe confinement," Barker said in a prepared statement.
"Big, wild animals should not be part of the traveling circus and, simply put, animal acts in circuses are antiquated and belong in the past, in a time when humans were ignorant about the needs of the other species who share our planet."
Large animals like lions and tigers spend their lives cramped in small cages, and elephants are forced to live chained by one or more legs for hours on end. In addition, traveling circuses pose a serious threat to public safety, as the keeping of wild, stressed animals in dangerously close proximity to the public is a recipe for disaster, according to PAWS.
The organization provides a sanctuary in San Andreas for large animals such as African elephants.