New York City officials stirred a minor brouhaha last month when they barred Universoul Circus from exhibiting its tigers and elephants during a recent series of appearances. The city said new rules require circuses to acquire a permit to use exotic animals, then turned down Universoul’s permit request on grounds that the tigers’ cages were too small and the elephants had not been tested for tuberculosis.
After the city rejected the circus’ efforts to comply with the requirements, the circus sued. Now both sides are enmeshed in a tangle of bureaucratese.
Two things strike me about the situation: First, the NY Daily News’ account blatantly sided with Universoul, claiming the ban disappointed city children “who had hoped to see the majestic creatures in the flesh.” You have to read waaayyy down to learn that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals pounced on Universoul a year ago for its handling of tigers and elephants.
Second, if the Big Apple wants to prohibit exotic-animal performances (a goal after my own heart), it could simply ban whips and bullhooks. Without them, trainers would never be able to convince these regal animals to perform unnatural acts.
Buzzfeed suggests just that in this excellent essay.