Animal Rights Win: California Bars Animals from Circuses, Becomes First State to Ban Fur Trade

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new bill that made California the third state to bar most animals from circus performances.

Additionally, another bill signed by the governor is the first of its kind in the nation, banning the sale and manufacture of new fur products. The law will kick into effect in 2023, and it follows Newsom’s signing of legislation that outlaws fur trapping.

Newsom stated that California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare, so this leadership will also include banning the sale of fur. He said that apart from all this, California is also making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals such as bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames.

“Just YouTube the videos showing the cruel way these animals—often stripped from their mothers as babies—are trained to do dangerous tricks. It’s deeply disturbing.”

In December, New Jersey and Hawaii both became the first states in the U.S. to issue legislation banning the use of circus animals. This protects all wild animal species including elephants, bears, tigers, lions, bears, and primates from taking part in circuses and traveling shows.

The law does not apply to rodeos and will exempt domesticated dogs, cats, and horses.

More than 40 countries around the world, about half of them in Europe, have either completely banned or heavily restricted the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes in venues like circuses or zoos.

In recent decades, circuses have faced a dramatic decline. After touring the country for 146, The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus permanently dismantled its tents in 2017.

Critics initially warned the proposal was too broad and would impact county fairs, wildlife rescues or rehabilitation organizations.

Therefore, lawmakers narrowed the definition of circus to include “a performance before a live audience in which entertainment consisting of a variety of acts such as acrobats, aerialists, clowns, jugglers, or stunts is the primary attraction or principal business.”

The law includes penalties of up to $25,000 daily for each violation.

Both legislators and animal rights activists hailed the new bill. State senator Ben Hueso, a co-author of the circus bill, said he was proud of the work that has been accomplished, and added that California will now join the growing number of states and localities stepping up to implement similar bans on cruel circuses.

Animal rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) thanked their 8,000 supporters for pressuring representatives to support the ban.

The fur ban will bar residents from selling or making clothing, shoes or handbags with fur, starting in 2023. Yet, it will still allow products used for religious or tribal purposes, just like the sale of leather, dog and cat fur, cowhides, deer, sheep and goat skin, as well as any other skin preserved through taxidermy.

The bill was vigorously opposed by the billion-dollar US fur industry, but according to animal rights groups, the fashion industry and fur trade subject animals to numerous inhumane actions, including gassing and electrocuting animals.

When she introduced the bill, Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman said:

“Given the overwhelming evidence of inhumane practices in the fur industry and the availability of so many different options for warm and fashionable fabrics, we will not continue to be complicit in unnecessary cruelty.”

Cassie King of the Berkeley-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere reported that they believe that California’s law could set in motion similar bans in other states. King added:

“Ordinary people want to see animals protected, not abused.”

This ban in California could lead to dramatic damage to the fur industry, which relies on products from chinchillas, rabbits, mink, and other animals.

The US retail fur industry brought in $1.5bn in sales in 2014, which is the most recent data available from the Fur Information Council.

Under California law, there is a fine of up to $1,000 for multiple violations. Fashion designers including Gucci, Versace, and Giorgio Armani have stopped or declared they intend to stop using fur.

Some fear that the ban could create a black market.

In a press release, Fur Information Council of America spokesman Keith Kaplan accused the governor of supporting a totalitarian so-called “vegan agenda”, and added that industry would sue the state:

“Chalk this up as a victory for a radical vegan agenda using fur as the first step to other bans on what we wear and eat. In the end, there will be no positive impact on animal welfare.