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October 31, 2012

Big-Top Brutality

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The recent Carson & Barnes Circus in Norman should have never happened.

Animals in circuses spend up to 11 months of the year traveling. For thousands of hours, over long distances, they may be chained, transported in vehicles that lack climate control and forced to stand or lie in their own waste. Performing animals such as elephants, lions and tigers endure years of physical and psychological suffering in traveling acts.

Bears. elephants, tigers and other animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls or jump through rings of fire. They don’t perform these and other difficult tricks because they want to. They perform them because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.

Standard circus industry practice is to use bullhooks and other objects to poke, prod, strike, shock and hit animals in order to “train” them — all for a few moments of human amusement.

I ask the city of Norman to adopt the following ordinance, adapted from the one passed in 2010 by Somerville, Mass. :

Display of Non-Domesticated Animals

· (a) No living non-domesticated animals shall be displayed for public entertainment or amusement in circuses, carnivals or other similar entities on property owned by the city of Norman, on city-owned property under lease or on private property. As used in this paragraph, “displayed” shall include, but is not limited to, animal acts and performances, animal rides and competitive animal races.

· (b) This ordinance shall not apply to domestic animals including, but not limited to, dogs, cats, horses, donkeys and farm animals, except that no domestic animal shall be used in competitive animal races.

· (c) This ordinance shall not apply to exhibits deemed educational by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

· (d) Violations of this ordinance are subject to penalties. Each consecutive day that a violation exists shall be considered a separate offense.

We applaud trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers and acrobats, but leave animals in peace.

ZAKK LUTTRELL

Norman

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