The City of Windsor Has Banned Circus Shows That Feature Animals

Recent years have seen increased calls for Canada to ban circus performances that feature animals.

Several petitions have been circulating online, with one directly addressed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that criticized Canada for being behind many other countries in animal rights protection. More than 40 countries around the world have forbidden circus with animal acts to perform. Canada has hosted no official discussion on the topic.

It’s unlikely that a federal – or even provincial – decision on the matter will come anytime soon. But many municipalities in Canada are taking initiative. Most recent figures reveal more than 30 municipal jurisdictions across the country have enacted an animal circus ban. The largest is Vancouver, which has prohibited the use of animals in circuses since 1992.

On Monday, Windsor became the latest city to follow suit. City council voted 6-4 in favour of amending a bylaw that would protect animals from being used in circus acts.

“Cultures change and this is an example of cultural change,” said Ward 10 Councillor Paul Borrelli after the amendment was presented. “We look at things a little differently in 2017.”

Not everyone is on the same page, however.

One reddit user, who had worked for Ringling Brothers until they ceased operations, says the decision is a case of punishing everyone for the behaviour of a few bad apples.

“I understand that this is the general consensus about circus animals, but it still makes me incredibly sad and hurt to read,” they wrote. “I had heard the stories of abuse, of the dreaded bull hooks, or of people beating the animals. So I told myself if I ever saw anything like that I was out. The thing is, I never saw it.”

Perhaps it’s a slippery precedent, but one that needs to be made. If animals in circuses are to be forbidden, why draw the line at zoos?

Windsor city council’s decision to move forward with the ban is a promising sign that governments are revisiting the issue after a period of stagnancy. Now, if only there could be some movement on closing Marineland. Or taking horse carriages off the streets of Montreal.