Television personality Bob Barker and actress Jorja Fox are a part of the group launching the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act today in Washington. Barker is a longtime animal rights advocate who is passionate about restricting the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses in America. The bill is the first offered to protect the transportation and use of all wild animals.
Here are some facts about the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act:
* Virginia Congressman Jim Moran sponsored the bill, which would drastically restrict the transportation of wild and exotic animals. Bill language focuses on the suffering of wild creatures forced into extreme confinement and sometimes violent training techniques employed by traveling circus operators. Moran is the co-chairman of the bipartisan Animal Protection Caucus.
* If passed, the TEAPA will not affect private ownership of exotic animals, permanent circus facilities, zoos, rodeos or aquariums. Penalties for violations of the mandates contained in the act vary, but each infraction carries possible fines and jail sentences.
* The Animal Defenders International organization authored the bill and can boast the high-profile faces of Barker and Fox to its list of top promoters. The television stars and ADI presenters addressed federal lawmakers today. Fox testified in front of Congress on the need to protect animals and the public. She requested prohibition of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses.
* The bill text maintains that due to the lack of free movement and restriction of natural behaviors, wild animals in traveling circuses develop health and behavioral issues. Initiatives in the bill relate to captivity and transportation mandates for exotic or wild animals, public safety, law enforcement powers, animal control and violence protections. ADI representatives stated during the hearing that the lack of federal animal health, safety and welfare laws make it very difficult for local law enforcement agencies to combat the abuses of traveling circuses.
* The public protection portion of the bill aims at preventing injury and death to circus workers and patrons. Incidents of wild animals attacks stemming from traveling circuses are documented in the bill.* Veterinarian Mel Richardson testified that he has spent four decades aiding injured captive exotic pets and wild animals. He asked Congress to end the suffering of animals in traveling circuses by passing the TEAPA Act.
* Feld Entertainment, the parent company of the Ringling Brothers Circus organization, issued a statement opposing the proposed legislation. The release stated the bill is focusing on a false premise that caring for and transporting circus animals is contradictory to sound animal husbandry.