Bans On Circuses With Animals Continue To Spread Across Australia

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In a move welcome among animal welfare supporters, yet another Australian local council has approved a ban on circuses featuring animals.

According to Australian Broadcasting Company, government leaders from Surf Coast Shire, in the state of Victoria, unanimously agreed on Tuesday to prohibit the practice of using animals for "entertainment purposes" in circuses, joining dozens of municipalities across the country which have already enacted similar bans.

Mayor Margot Smith, who introduced the motion last May, cited a shift in public opinion regarding animal abuses that take place in circuses.

"I believe society has moved on quite a bit on our animal welfare issues," Smith told the Geelong Advertiser. "This is not really something that is as acceptable as it was some years ago."

Surf Coast Shire is far from alone in their opposition to animal circuses. Bans on the practice are gaining momentum throughout Australia - 40 local councils have already enacted laws prohibiting them. In an open letter last year, Australia's Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offered its support, saying animals "can never be properly cared for in a circus."

Nine countries so far have banned animal circuses nationwide, including Malta, Bolivia, Greece, Peru, Cyprus, Paraguay, Colombia, Slovenia and the Netherlands. More than two dozen other countries have outlawed or restricted the practice regionally.

In the United States, 46 municipalities have outlawed animal circuses, and a nationwide ban was proposed earlier this year. Congressman Jim Moran introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, which seeks to restrict animal circuses on the federal level, arguing that:

"The mounting evidence of inhumane treatment and the growing public concern for these animals demands that we reconsider what are appropriate living conditions for these intelligent, social creatures."