The largest city in the state of Maine recently did its part to ensure that the welfare of wild and exotic animals is protected.
In September, Portland became the first city in Maine to ban the display of wild and exotic animals, the Portland Press Herald reported. The vote for the ban was a unanimous decision by the Portland City Council, which cited the “cruel” handling practices of these animals as reason for backing the ordinance.
The ban was first proposed by City Councilor Brian Batson after activists protested when the Kora Shrine Circus visited the city the previous spring. The ban received a unanimous recommendation from the council’s Health and Human Services Committee, and drew dozens of supporters, with no one testifying against it.
“At this point, it’s no longer an acceptable practice,” Batson told the Portland Press Herald in June. “We have these large intelligent animals that are capable of complex thoughts and feelings. They are plucked from their natural environments, and they are essentially imprisoned. We need to ask ourselves, is this the kind of city we want to be, the kind that supports acts like this?”
The ban extends far beyond elephants, lions, and tigers. It also protects primates, giraffes, zebras, and kangaroos. Aquatic animals like seals, crocodiles, walruses, and sharks are also protected, though the ordinance doesn’t apply to horses, cows, sheep, swine, or goats. Violators of the ban will be subject to a $500 fine.
In passing the ban, Portland joined the ranks of groundbreaking cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, two of more than 100 cities nationwide with similar laws. Many countries around the world, including Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, ban the use of all wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.
As more and more cities recognize the importance of humane animal treatment, activists hope that more cities in Maine and around the country will follow Portland’s lead. With the appropriate regulations in place, more animals can be free to live the life of comfort and loving treatment they deserve.
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