elephant

Protecting Animals Used in Circuses (Connecticut)

An Act Prohibiting the Use of Wild Animals in Circuses, Carnivals and Exhibitions (SB 66)

Prohibits the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows

Updated

February 17, 2021

Work Type

Legislation

Status

Completed

Update: Unfortunately, this bill failed to be raised in the Environment Committee by a key legislative deadline. We are grateful to Senator Will Haskell and Representative Anne Meiman Hughes for introducing this important legislation to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows, to the coalition advocating for its passage, and to the hundreds of Animal Legal Defense Fund supporters who took action.

Wild animals don’t belong in circuses. They are subjected to neglect, abusive training, prolonged confinement, and their use in circuses puts the public at risk. An Act Prohibiting the Use of Wild Animals in Circuses, Carnivals and Exhibitions (SB 66), introduced by Senator Will Haskell (D-26) and Representative Anne Meiman Hughes (D-135), would prohibit use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.

Known as “Beulah’s Law,” this legislation is named for Beulah, an Asian elephant who was exploited for decades by the Commerford Zoo, a Connecticut-based traveling circus, until her death at age 54. Beulah passed away at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2019. Beulah’s former companion, Minnie, an Asian elephant, continues to be exploited by the Commerford Zoo.

As the public grows increasingly aware of the cruelty inherent in forcing wild animals to perform in circuses and traveling shows, more states and cities are moving to restrict or prohibit their use. Already, six states and nearly 150 other localities in 37 states have passed various restrictions governing the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows — including Bridgeport and Stamford, Connecticut.

Wild animals do not perform circus tricks because they want to — they perform these confusing and physically grueling acts because they are afraid not to. Trainers use physical abuse, including beatings, to coerce animals into performing difficult tricks on command. These animals endure extreme confinement — unable to engage in many of their natural behaviors. They are often transported in poorly ventilated, cramped trailers for up to 50 weeks a year, sometimes in extreme weather.

Wild animals like big cats and elephants are also dangerous and unpredictable, posing a serious safety risk to the public. Numerous incidents have been documented at circuses and traveling shows that tour in Connecticut.

Learn more about animals used in entertainment.

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