By Bob Katzen
Legislation that would ban elephant acts from being used in traveling circuses and other shows in Massachusetts (H 418) is stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee where it has been since it received a favorable report from the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture almost a year ago on October 17. Violators would be fined between $500 and $10,000.
A broader bill (S 490) that would prohibit performances by any wild and exotic animals and impose up to a $5,000 fine on violators was sent off to a study committee. Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated Exotic animals, include zebras, camels, llamas, crocodiles, ostriches and many others.
Supporters say that these beautiful animals should not have to endure abuse and neglect in order to entertain people. They argue the treatment and harsh training of elephants is cruel and breaks their spirit while also causing them to become aggressive.
Opponents say the abuse of any animal should never be tolerated but noted that these types of animals are rarely secure in their natural habitat. Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States has said that the aim of these bills to prohibit the exhibition of properly cared for and humanely trained animals does not prevent abuse, but rather unnecessarily restricts the ability of the public to view elephants at shows throughout the commonwealth.”