Mexico City bans use of animals in circus acts

Mexico City, Mexico City's government has enacted the legislation approved by the Federal District Legislative Assembly banning the use of animals in circuses in the capital, a measure that was criticised by the industry.

The assembly voted 41-0, with 11 abstentions, June 9 to approve the Law on the Staging of Public Shows, which "prohibits the use of live wild or domestic animals during the staging of circus performances".

The measure became law on Wednesday, a day after its publication in the Federal District Gazette. The law gives circuses one year to develop new acts that do not use animals and to find homes for the creatures.

"The Federal District now consolidates itself as a progressive city in the vanguard of respect for the lives of non-human living creatures," Federal District lawmaker Jesus Sesma, a Mexican Green Party or PVEM member and one of the law's main backers, said.

The lawmaker thanked Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera for supporting the PVEM's measure and urged the industry to accept the ban.

Circus owners "should not be afraid of change, should innovate and evolve to maintain the long-time tradition of this excellent family entertainment", Sesma said.

The Circus Owners and Artists Association, meanwhile, criticised Mancera for supporting the legislation and vowed legal action.

An appeal will be filed in the Supreme Court against "a ban that is completely arbitrary and unconstitutional", the association said in a statement.

The legislation is "unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary and puts the existence of our businesses and the welfare of our animals at serious risk", the trade group said.

The law prohibits circuses from presenting, selling or using live animals as lottery prizes or in games, as well as using animals "for the taking of photographs or any other related activity".

The ban applies only to circuses and will not affect dolphin shows, theatre companies, bullfights and other kinds of animal shows.

Violators will be subject to seizure of their animals and fines of more than 700,000 pesos ($53,722).

Mexico City is the seventh fedral entity in Mexico to ban the use of animals in circuses, joining Colima, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos and Queretaro states.

Similar legislation has been proposed in the states of Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo.

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