California to become the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of fur

Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed a bill barring most animals from circus performances.

US must stand against capturing baby African elephants for zoos and circuses

BY JOHANNA HAMBURGER, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 08/26/19 07:00 AM EDT THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

View Latest Opinions >>

US must stand against capturing baby African elephants for zoos and circuses © Getty Images Baby African elephants won a historic reprieve at the world’s largest wildlife trade conference last week when delegates voted in committee to end the barbaric practice of capturing live elephants from the wild and shipping them off to zoos, wildlife parks and circuses, where they spend the rest of their lives in captivity.

At the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES) in Geneva, 46-member countries voted to restrict trade in live elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to conservation programs or to secure areas in the elephants’ natural range — except in cases of temporary, emergency transfers. This would shut down the pipeline for elephants to be sold into captivity to foreign countries.

However, this debate is not over. At a CITES plenary meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the issue may be reopened for discussion, triggering a second vote. Shamefully, the United States voted against the ban the first time and will likely do so again if the parties call for a second vote.

Similarly, the European Union spoke against the ban and may seek to overturn it. The 28-nation bloc, which has significant voting power, was prevented from casting votes earlier because not all members were credentialed at the time. Since then, delegates have faced intense lobbying pressure from China, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and zoo associations trying to flip the vote.

Elephants are social and emotional creatures that form strong family bonds and suffer tremendously in captivity, both physically and psychologically. Elephants often face horrific abuse during the capture process. Footage of wild-caught baby elephants, newly snatched from their mothers, shows them being beaten and kicked as they await export from Zimbabwe. From a helicopter, captors shoot tranquilizer darts at the young elephants, and then maneuver the chopper to drive away the rest of the herd. Some elephants die while waiting to be shipped, in transit or upon arrival at their destination.

Elephants who do survive the long journey have been observed living in dark, barren cells in holding facilities and zoos — in contrast to roaming the vast African wilderness with family groups and larger clans.

Moreover, the export of live wild elephants serves no credible conservation purpose and has been condemned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the 31 African countries that belong to the African Elephant Coalition, and by many prominent elephant biologists.

Yet, since 2012, Zimbabwe has captured and exported more than 100 baby elephants to Chinese zoos and entertainment venues. Very young elephants are pursued due to their small size, which makes them easier to transport. Recently, we learned that Zimbabwe has begun targeting infants as young as eight months old. Such captures have far-reaching consequences, damaging individuals, families, larger social groups, and ecological health.

Some countries, zoos and zoo associations mistakenly believe that this proposal would prevent zoos from sending their legally acquired elephants to other zoos, circuses or sanctuaries in other countries.
This is simply not true. The proposal would not apply retroactively, which means that if an elephant was imported legally in the past, that animal could be exported legally in the future.

By voting against this proposal, the United States is disregarding the growing public opposition to this cruel practice, which harms elephant welfare and fails to promote elephant conservation.

We urge U.S. delegates not to seek to overturn the decision. If the proposed ban is reopened for a vote this week, the United States should throw its weight behind this proposal or — at the very least — abstain from voting.

A “yes” vote would reflect the position held by a majority of U.S.
citizens, African elephant range states and leading elephant experts.
Without U.S. leadership on this issue, elephant calves from Zimbabwe and Botswana may continue to be stolen from the wild and conscripted into a lifetime of captivity

Johanna Hamburger is a wildlife attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute who is attending CITES this week.

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/458615-us-must-stand-against-capturing-baby-african-elephants-for-zoos

CIRCUS TIGERS TURN ON TRAINER, MAUL HIM TO DEATH DESPITE FRANTIC ATTEMPTS TO INTERVENE

Italian police are investigating after one of the country’s most famous tamers was killed by four tigers he was training.

Ettore Weber died Thursday evening during a rehearsal at Marina Orfei Circus in Triggiano, Bari, Italian newspaper Repubblica reported.

Police said they think one tiger bit Weber, prompting the other three to attack. The animals mauled the tamer for some 20 minutes, according to Notizie.it.

Some 118 people tried to rescue Weber, but he died from his injuries. He was in his early sixties.

Weber’s show was part of the circus’s “Animal Park” event, which featured live animals from five continents. It was due to run from June 15 to July 14. The circus did not immediately respond to Newsweek‘s request for comment.

Tiger, Killed, Trainer
File photo: A tiger jumps through a flaming hoop at a circus. An exotic animal tamer has been killed by four tigers he was training.GETTY

Weber’s death provoked fierce criticism on social media of circuses that feature wild animals. One Twitter user wrote: “Animals have to stay where nature puts them, stop. You can’t torture them for your own profit and delight.”

Sofia Marinelli@TopaM79

Procura di Bari apre inchiesta per ricostruire l’incidente a Ettore Weber, domatore del circo Orfei, ucciso da una tigre durante le prove a Triggiano. Che vuoi ricostrui’? Un animale selvatico, per quanto addestrato, resta selvatico. Se lo tratti da giocattolo ci scappa il morto.

Gianluca #IoBalloConLaura@Gianluc54410558

Gli animali devono stare dove la natura li mette, stop. Non puoi torturarli per il tuo profitto e diletto.

See Gianluca #IoBalloConLaura’s other Tweets

User Lello Pinto called those who run circuses with wild animals “beasts.” “A decent parent doesn’t take their children to see animals behind bars,” Pinto added.

User Katerina Medici said she was not “at all” sorry about the tragedy. “This is not their natural habitat,” she wrote. “Let these animals go free.”

“Karma is a b****,” tweeted another user. “Another reason not to use animals in circuses.”

Taltos 🇨🇦🇮🇹🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈@taltos_mxp_yyz

Karma is a bitch. Altro motivo per non usare animali nei circhi. , sbrana famoso addestratore al e lo uccide: Ettore Weber https://www.fanpage.it/attualita/bari-tigre-sbrana-addestratore-al-circo-orfei-e-lo-uccide-tragedia-durante-le-prove/  via @fanpage

Bari, tigre sbrana addestratore al Circo Orfei e lo uccide: tragedia durante le prove

Tragedia al Circo Orfei allestito nelle campagne di Triggiano, vicino al centro commerciale Bariblu. Secondo quanto appreso una tigre, durante le prove dello spettacolo, ha azzannato il suo addestr…

fanpage.it

See Taltos 🇨🇦🇮🇹🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈‘s other Tweets

User Paola Massari said she was “dismayed, of course,” but added: “This could also be an opportunity to stop exploiting, segregating and mistreating exotic animals.”

But some Twitter users hit back at critics. One said those “rejoicing” over Weber’s death wouldn’t do the same if he was their own friend or relative. The user added: “If you are so opposed to the mistreatment of animals in the circus, why don’t you actually take action?”

G I O@mccharmlypaul

Siete di una piccolezza infinita, voi che esultate per la morte di un uomo sbranato da quattro tigri. Immagino che avreste fatto la stessa cosa se al suo posto ci fosse stato vostro padre, vostro figlio, un vostro parente o un vostro amico.

G I O@mccharmlypaul

Se siete così contrari al maltrattamento degli animali nel circo, perché non vi attivate concretamente? Al posto di scrivere “godo”, “se lo è meritato”, “finalmente”.

See G I O’s other Tweets

Italy’s parliament voted to phase out animal circus acts in November 2017, with a requirement that new legislation be outlined within a year. Campaign group Animal Defenders International hailed the move as “a major breakthrough” for animal rights.

In the U.S., some states have banned the use of exotic wild animals in circuses. When New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed such a bill into law last December he said he was proud his state would no longer allow animals to be “exploited and cruelly treated.” He added: “These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of others is at risk

New Russian law forbids killing & mistreating animals, restricts petting zoos & illegal circuses

Published time: 28 Dec, 2018 15:23 Get short URL

New Russian law forbids killing & mistreating animals, restricts petting zoos & illegal circuses A tiger roars during a circus performance. © Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov

We are responsible for those we tame. And it’s now a law in Russia as Vladimir Putin put his signature under new legislation, which bans killing, pitting and other forms of mistreatment of animals.

The Law on Responsible Treatment of Animals prohibits the killing of animals “under any pretext.” It also outlaws shooting or poisoning stray dogs and cats, which has been happening in many Russian cities in recent years. Homeless animals are to be captured, sterilized, vaccinated and released with a special microchip.

Organizing animal fights and hounding beasts at other animals or people has also been made illegal.

The law orders pets to be kept in proper conditions by their masters. It bans contact or petting zoos from being opened at the malls, which is a common thing across Russia, as well as hosting animals at bars and restaurants.
Also on rt.com Russian Hachiko: Loyal pooch spends weeks outside hospital awaiting master’s recovery (VIDEO)

In April, two bears escaped from a café and caused major havoc in Yaroslavl Region. One of the animals was captured, but the other went to the village and had to be shot dead.

The law makes life harder for numerous semi-legal circuses across Russia, which often use dangerous wild animals in their shows. In October, Russia was shocked after a lioness attacked a four-year-old girl during a traveling circus performance in Krasnodar Region. The child survived but suffered lacerated wounds to the face and other injuries.

The wild animals owned in violation of the law and without a proper license will from now be seized by the state. Hosting them at flats, residential homes and country houses has also been banned.

The new legislation states that an animal can’t be simply thrown into the street, but “should be passed to a new owner or the shelter.”
Camels, ostriches and other exotic creatures have been recently found in the wild in Russia after their disingenuous masters disposed of them.

Dog owners will also face some restrictions as the law obliges them to walk their companions only in specially designated areas. It also allows punishing those, who refuse to pick up feces left by their pets in the street, with fines.

READ MORE: Helpless dog saved from horrible death after getting stuck in middle of frozen Siberian lake (VIDEO)

The legislation, aimed at protecting animal rights, was first introduced to the parliament in 2010 and has taken almost eight years to be finalized by the lawmakers.

https://www.rt.com/russia/447604-russia-animal-rights-law/

Wales to ban wild animals in circuses

Welsh government pledges new laws in a move being hailed by campaigners

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/wales-ban-wild-animals-circuses-14917707

The use of wild animals in circuses across Wales will be banned, Carwyn Jones will announce today.
In a move that brings UK-wide legislation one step closer the first minister will say that a bill will be introduced within the next 12 months.

His announcement has been hailed by animal welfare campaigners, who said it was a “stand to stop circus suffering in Wales”.

Only two circuses featuring wild animals currently operate within the UK.

A statement released this morning from the Welsh Government states: “The way animals are treated is an important reflection of society and over the next 12 months, a bill will be introduced to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses on welfare grounds.”

Animal Defenders International (ADI) that has campaigning to end the suffering of animals in UK circuses for 20 years, said the decision should be welcomed.

Jan Creamer, president of ADI, said: “We congratulate the Welsh Government for taking a stand to stop circus suffering in Wales and bringing a UK-wide ban one step closer.

“ADI has documented suffering and abuse in UK circuses for many years. Knowing that only a ban can protect them, we are delighted an end to the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales is finally within sight.”

The group argues that due to the constant travel and the temporary nature of their accommodation circuses on the road cannot cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy.

The Welsh Government first committed to ban wild animals in circuses back in 2013, stating it would seek an extension to draft legislation published for England by the UK Government.

The bill however was left to gather dust with the UK Government only finally committing in February this year, to act by January 2020.

Around the world, 45 countries have already introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses including Scotland and Ireland.

With a Welsh Government-commissioned report published in 2016, finding that “life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’ and in support of a ban, it was expected legislation would soon follow.

Consulting the public on the broader issue of mobile animal exhibits last year, the Welsh Government also asked if a ban on wild animals in circuses should be considered.

The response from the public was overwhelming, with the Welsh Government stating that there was “strong support for a ban”.

Most recently, during a debate in the Senedd in March, Assembly Members unanimously called for urgent action to bring in the ban, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths responding that she was “exploring opportunities to bring forward legislation”.

Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of circuses with wild animals in Britain plummet.

Only two remain, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus which are licensed in England and tour Wales.

A third circus with big cats also performed in Wales when owner Thomas Chipperfield was unable to obtain a licence in England, it has remained off the road since.

Animal Defenders International
Millbank Tower, Millbank
LONDON, SW1P 4QP, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7630 3340

Circus wins, anti-fur policies lead list of top gains for animals in 2017

by Wayne Pacelle,
December 21, 2017

This was a year of extraordinary gains on a wide set of issues, showing the power and reach of The HSUS, Humane Society International, and our affiliates. But along with it came some terrible setbacks at the federal level – with Congress unwinding federal rulesadopted in 2016 and in January 2017 to protect grizzly bears and wolves on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, loss of federal protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears, and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture delaying or dissembling rules on horse soring and farm animal protection (the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule).

This was also a year that saw The HSUS announce a major, multi-million-dollar agreement with the New York Blood Center (NYBC) concerning more than 60 chimpanzees formerly used by the NYBC in medical experiments in Liberia. And hundreds of thousands of Americans donated to help animals and people in a series of intensely powerful disasters. Our emergency responders moved more than 2,000 animals from affected areas, and brought lifesaving animal services to animals and the people who care about them in low-income areas. We made short-term and long-term investments in Puerto Rico, with spay and neuter clinics, transporting animals, and rebuilding the animal welfare capacity in the Commonwealth, and delivered tens of thousands of pounds of supplies and food to people and animals in devastated areas.

Ending the era of wild animals in traveling circus acts

In the wake of Ringling Bros. first ending its elephant acts and then shuttering its entire operation in 2017, we’ve helped push the cause of ending wild animal acts in circuses throughout the United States and across the world. Just this week, the Pittsburgh city council banned wild animal acts, just the latest in a long list of communities, including New York City and Los Angeles. In August, Illinois became the first state to ban the use of elephants in circuses, and New York state followed in October. Italy, Scotland, and other nations banned wild animal acts in circuses. The outgoing interior secretary for France’s presidential administration announced a phase-out of the use of cetaceans in marine parks and facilities in that country. While Ringling Bros. is gone, a number of small circuses cart animals around and subject them to inhumane training techniques and grueling travel. In May, The HSUS released an undercover investigation of Ryan Easley’s ShowMe Tigers Act, that revealed the mistreatment of eight tigers. The Oklahoma-based act is contracted out to branded circuses, including Shrine Circuses.

This was a remarkable year for fur-free fashion, with more high-fashion houses and retailers committing to a fur-free future. Photo by iStockphoto

The fur-free movement surges, with Gucci, Michael Kors and others going fur-free in banner year

This was a remarkable year for fur-free fashion, with more high-fashion houses and retailers committing to a fur-free future. This summer, Stein Mart, the U.S.-based department store chain found mostly in the South, VF Corporation, the parent company of more than two dozen popular clothing brands, including The North Face, Vans, Timberland, and Nautica, and Yoox Net-A-Porter, one of the world’s leading online luxury fashion retailers for brands like Burberry, Prada, Gucci, and Michael Kors, announced they will stop selling all items and accessories made with real animal fur. In October, Gucci announced it will go fur-free, followed by an announcement from Burlington Stores that it would remove fur from all of its nearly 600 stores. In mid-December, Michael Kors announced it will phase out all fur products by the end of 2018.

Farm animals gain in the U.S. and globally

After we launched our Nine Billion Lives campaign – calling for a set of minimum standards for the care of broiler chickens that dramatically improve their welfare – more than 70 companies have agreed to phase in purchasing practices consistent with the terms set forth, including Burger King, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Subway. The HSUS partnered with Compass Group and Aramark—two of the world’s largest food service companies—on the most extensive plant-based work in the industry to date, including chef training and menu development. An HSUS undercover investigation exposed mistreatment at industrial chicken production and slaughtering facilities in Georgia and Texas connected to the factory farm giant Pilgrim’s Pride, the second largest chicken producer in the United States, producing more than a billion chickens a year. In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous ruling reinstating California’s law banning the sale of foie gras. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by several state attorneys general and governors, including former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, seeking to overturn California’s landmark egg sales law, AB 1437, which requires eggs sold in the state come from hens not subjected to cruel confinement practices.

Our Humane Society International team worked with corporations around the world to improve conditions for egg-laying hens, from Brazil to Mexico to Colombia and Singapore. After working with HSI, Taco Holding, Mexico’s second largest restaurant operator with more than 550 restaurants across the country, announced that it will go 100 percent cage-free. Seventeen major Brazilian food companies, including JBS, Bunge, Casa do Pão de Queijo, and Sapore also announced cage-free egg policies. HSI also worked with major multinational companies, including Nestlé and Kraft Heinz, two of the world’s largest food manufacturers, to announce global cage-free egg policies, and garnered the first-ever cage-free egg commitments from Colombian, Chilean, and Asian companies. In Brazil, the fourth largest pig processor, Frimesa, committed to eliminating gestation crates, joining the country’s top three producers that have made similar commitments.

In Brazil, the fourth largest pig processor, Frimesa, committed to eliminating gestation crates, joining the country’s top three producers that have made similar commitments. Photo by iStockphoto

Major gains to stop cruelty to dogs, other domesticated animals throughout the world

Our HSI/Mexico team won a major victory this year when Mexico banned dogfighting nationwide and adopted felony-level penalties for dogfighting. Mexico City updated its constitution to recognize animals as sentient beings whose welfare must be protected. In Guatemala, the Congress passed sweeping anti-cruelty legislation, including a dogfighting ban, a prohibition on tail and ear docking of farm animals, and a ban on cosmetic testing on animals. The law creates the first-ever government entity in Central America that will deal specifically with animal cruelty. The Indian government announced sweeping new regulations that are expected to end the suffering of dogs bred indiscriminately and without basic needs like food, water, and shelter; improve conditions for animals sold in livestock markets; and ensure that fish sold in aquariums and fish stores are not caught using destructive fishing practices, or taken from protected areas. Our HSI/India team also succeeded in persuading authorities to ban the import of the skins of exotic animals and furs into the country. Earlier this month, the Nepalese Supreme Court banned all public cullsof street dogs using poisons, beating, and shooting, and directed the Nepalese government to introduce a nationwide humane management plan for homeless animals.

The world starts to show a tilt against trophy hunting

British Columbia’s newly-formed government announced a provincial ban on trophy hunting of grizzly bears, even if the hunters involved claim they eat the meat of the animal. President Trump in a tweet called trophy hunting “a horror show” and stated that decisions by his Fish and Wildlife Service to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe would be placed on hold. The incoming governor of New Jersey said that there would be no more black bear hunting in New Jersey under his watch, the Connecticut legislature rejected attempts to open a black bear hunting season, and Florida Fish and Game Commissioners blocked bear hunting there for the second year in a row. A federal appeals court upheld California’s right to bar mountain lion trophies coming into the state.

In August, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region.

Wildlife trafficking progress

China is in the final stage of shutting down its ivory carving and ivory trade operations throughout the nation, in one of the most extraordinary acts of disassembling a major industry. In the wake of our ballot initiative win in Oregon in 2016 and following the lead of numerous states, Nevada adopted strict new measures against the trade in shark fins, ivory, rhino horns, and other imperiled species. President Trump issued an executive orderstating that it shall be the policy of the executive branch to strengthen enforcement of laws against transnational crime and international trafficking, including wildlife trafficking.

HSUS, federal courts stave off mass wolf killing in northern Great Lakes region

In August, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region, affirming the outcome by a U.S. District Court. We estimate that state agencies in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would have shot and trapped approximately 1,000 wolves this fall if we hadn’t blocked the delisting of the wolves. We are now in a furious fight to prevent Congress from reversing that decision. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which amounts to a grab bag of anti-wildlife provisions, including wolf delisting, may see action in Congress. We need every animal advocate to contact their lawmakers and urge them to oppose any effort by Congress to cherry-pick wolves from the endangered species list in order to placate trophy hunters, trappers, and ranchers who want to kill the forebears of our domesticated dogs.

The Indian government announced sweeping new regulations that are expected to end the suffering of dogs bred indiscriminately and without basic needs like food, water, and shelter. Photo by iStockphoto

Puppy mill victories

An HSUS undercover investigation revealed that puppies were being mistreated at Chelsea Kennel Club, a boutique pet store in Manhattan, generating investigations by the New York attorney general’s office and the mayor’s office. Under pressure, the store closed down within two months. California became the first state to ban the sale of puppies in pet stores, unless they come from rescues or shelters. We drove the number of local jurisdictions that ban the sale of puppy mill dogs at pet stores to almost 250. We helped close down a commercial breeding operation in a New Hampshire mansion, saving 84 Great Danes living there in deplorable conditions, and spurring the state to consider a new law to better regulate commercial breeders. The breeder was convicted on 10 counts of animal cruelty in December and was just sentenced and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution to The HSUS and other groups. Through our Puppy Friendly Pet Stores Conversion Program – where we work to change the business models of pet stores to forgo puppy mill sales and instead work with shelters and rescues on in-store adoptions – we’ve converted a total of 21 stores and helped adopt out more than 12,000 dogs. Earlier this year, the Courts of Appeals for the Second and Seventh Circuits upheld laws restricting retail sales of companion animals from puppy mills and other unscrupulous breeders where animals are often raised in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, leading to health and behavioral problems for the animals, and emotional and financial burdens on consumers.

After 30-year fight, international panel embraces dolphin protection standards for U.S.

Commercial tuna fleets won’t be able to flood the U.S. market with tuna caught by chasing dolphins and setting nets on the air-breathing mammals, after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in October that the United States has not engaged in unfair trade practices with Mexico by placing restrictions on tuna imports. This has been a 30-year fight, and the WTO’s ruling may end an extraordinarily complex and multi-channel battle that has seen the debate move from the marketplace to Congress to the federal courts to the WTO.

Commercial tuna fleets won’t be able to flood the U.S. market with tuna caught by chasing dolphins and setting nets on the air-breathing mammals anymore, following a World Trade Organization ruling in October. Photo by iStockphoto

Progress on the End Dog Meat campaign

HSI continued its End Dog Meat campaign in Asia, particularly in China and Korea. The Yulin dog meat festival in China was conducted with much less fanfare this year than in past years, as HSI continued to keep the world’s eyes on this cruel spectacle, and work with local authorities to end it. Working on a tip from activists just two days before the “official” start of the festival, authorities seized a truck transporting more than 1,300 dogs and 100 cats to a dog meat market and turned them over to activists. In 2017, HSI China helped more than 3,000 dogs rescued from the meat trade and other abusive situations. In South Korea, HSI continued to close down dog meat farms, with 10 such farms closed so far. To date, 1,222 dogs have been rescued with many brought to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada for a chance at a better life. HSI and its partners launched a campaign in Indonesia to end the dog meat trade there. Taiwan banned the sale of dog and cat meat.

Portland bans the display of wild and exotic animals

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/18/portland-bans-the-display-of-wild-and-exotic-animals/

The City Council votes unanimously to reject the use of big cats, elephants and a wide range of other animals in circus acts.

Soon, the display of wild and exotic animals will no longer be allowed in Maine’s largest city.

The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday to ban the use of big cats, elephants and a wide range of other circus animals because of “cruel” training and handling practices.

Portland joined over 100 municipalities nationwide to pass a ban on the display of wild and exotic animals, but is the first in Maine to do so, according to animal rights groups.

City Councilor Brian Batson first introduced the ordinance back in June. It was referred to the council’s Health and Human Services Committee, where it received a unanimous recommendation to the full council.

“We can all recognize the fact these practices are outdated,” Batson said. “They are not only cruel – they are inhumane.”

Nobody testified against the proposed ban, but more than a dozen supporters urged the council to adopt it, in hopes the state would follow suit.

“Tonight you have the opportunity to create history that Portland can be proud of,” said Melissa Gates of Animal Rights Maine, a group founded in Portland in 2009.

The ordinance will apply to a wide variety of animals. Prohibited animals include lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, elephants and kangaroos, as well as crocodiles, seals, walruses and sharks, among others.

The resolution explaining the ordinance cites the treatment and “draconian training that can be cruel and inhuman” toward the animals. It also describes how some exotic animals have escaped from their cages and “roamed in cities, threatening the safety of the residents and presenting a dangerous challenge to the police officers who must respond.”

It notes that two companies – Carson & Barnes Circus and Vincent Von Duke’s big cat act – that have been fined over their handling of animals have also been to Portland.

Violations of the city ordinance can result in a $500 fine.

The ordinance was supported by Animal Rights Maine, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Maine Animal Coalition.

Nearly two dozen people attended a rally prior to the meeting, including one person dressed as a tiger and another as an elephant.

According to the groups, four states and more than 125 municipalities have passed restrictions governing the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.

Rep. Kim Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth, proposed a bill in the Legislature that would have banned the use of elephants in traveling animal acts in Maine, but it failed in May.

Monaghan presented a letter to the council from legislators who were disappointed that the state bill did not pass.

“We are pleased to see the city of Portland taking the lead on this issue,” she said.

Val Giguere, a member of the board of directors of the Maine Animal Coalition, applauded the council’s action. “We are hopeful that the passing of this ordinance in the City of Portland is the beginning of a trend towards ending the cruelty and exploitation of animals for entertainment in traveling acts throughout Maine,” she said in a statement.

Last spring, animal rights advocates staged protests outside the Cross Insurance Arena during the 64th annual Kora Shrine Circus, which uses elephants, lions and tigers in public performances. The Kora Shrine Circus defended the practice of using wild animals, arguing that their animals are not mistreated.

In May, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performance, blaming the closure on declining attendance caused by its being forced to eliminate elephant acts.