Following a yearlong Mother Jones investigation of Ringling Bros. elephant abuse, a bill to protect exotic animals has finally appeared in the three-ring circus that is Congress. The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act was presented Wednesday with the support of Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, former The Price Is Right host Bob Barker and CSI actress Jorja Fox.
In his decision to support the bill Wednesday, Rep. Moran cited recent reports of elephant abuse. "Based upon publically available research, including video and photographic evidence, it is clear that traveling circuses cannot provide the proper living conditions for exotic animals," he said. "This legislation is intended to target the most egregious situations involving exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses." According to Morgan's spokeswoman Anne Hughes, Moran read Mother Jones' story "The Cruelest Show on Earth."
The five-page bill calls for the restriction of exotic and domesticated animals in traveling circuses and exhibitions. Specifically, it would forbid all exotic and wild animals from performing if they had been traveling in mobile shelters at any time in the 15 days before. So much for the traveling circus. To make his case, Rep. Moran cites the health costs of traveling and capitivity on exotic animals, psychological and behavioral problems, elephant hooks, electric shocks, and other forms of abuse. He also mentions how an angry, cooped-up elephant might pose a danger to the public.
Here, in its entirety, is the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act: