Multnomah County bans traveling animal circuses
Lions and tigers and bears — nope.
Multnomah County Commissioners have banned live-animal traveling circuses from setting up shop anywhere within their jurisdiction.
The new rule means wandering ringmasters and itinerant impresarios can't display exotic animals in front of a live audience for entertainment, education or to make a profit. The ruling applies to crocodiles, alligators, hippos, giraffes, camels, sharks, elephants, big cats, lions, tigers, hyenas, kangaroos, apes, monkeys, rhinos, zebras, seals, walruses, ostriches and bears.
County Code already prohibits ordinary citizens from owning such animals as pets.
"The driving force was really about the treatment — or inhuman treatment — that these animals experience during these events," said Jackie Rose, director of the county's animal shelter. "The concern is for those animals who are being continually transported (and) placed in an environment where they're on public display."
The ban doesn't apply to filmmakers, scientists conducting animal research, accredited zoos and aquariums, veterinarians, or licensed livestock breeders. Petting zoos with horses, mules, donkeys, alpacas, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, domestic cats and reptiles are also still allowed.
But the numerous loopholes irked Commissioner Loretta Smith, who called on the board to expand the ban to include filmmakers. No one else present would second the motion. "We're opening up Pandora's Box on this, and we're giving some folks a pass and other folks not," Smith said during the meeting on Tuesday, July 12. "They're all making money that includes animals that have to be trained and cared for."
"It's at least a step in the right direction to do the right things in terms of animal care," shot back Commissioner Sharon Meieran, who sponsored the ordinance that passed 3 to 0. Smith abstained and County Chair Deborah Kafoury was absent.
A lobbyist for A Walk on the Wild Side, which displays big cats for educational purposes, said the nonprofit based in Washington County will no longer be able to participate in the Rose Festival or the Multnomah County Fair.
"Our involvement in this process has been zero," said the lobbyist, Darin Campbell. "It takes food out of the mouths of the other animals that we care for, and it drives us further and further into a desperate state."
The language of the law states that performing animals "suffer severe and extended confinement" and "are deprived of natural movements" — though it also contains a carve-out for the Oregon Zoo.