He can't get rid of the horses in Central Park, so now Mayor de Blasio is going after lions, tigers and bears.
The de Blasio administration on Thursday came out in favor of a City Council measure that would ban wild and exotic animal performances in the five boroughs, a move that circus bigs say would force them to stop all their shows in New York City.
Jeff Dupee, a City Hall community liaison who is the mayor’s point person on animal issues, said at a City Council hearing on the bill that the administration’s goal is the “humane” treatment of all animals.
“It is inappropriate for the wild and exotic animals covered by this bill to be forced to perform for entertainment purposes,” said Dupee.
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Although he said the mayor overall supports the bill, he did ask for some of its language to be tweaked to reflect government sponsored conservation and educational programs that use wild animal demonstration.
As an example, he said a Parks Department class to teach young people about wild life has demonstrations with foxes, and believes it would be axed if the bill went through as is.
“We look forward to working with the Council to ensure that the scope of the bill matches its intent,” he said.
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Animal rights supporters also testified in favor of the bill, including a rep for NYCLASS, the politically-connected, anti-carriage horse group that tried to ban the buggies from Central Park.
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“Elephants do not naturally wear tutus, tigers do not instinctively jump through rings of fire, bears do not ride bikes,” she said in her testimony.
But Big Top brass — including a lion tamer from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey — insisted their animals were always treated well.
“The health and well-being of my animals is my top priority, every single day,” said Alexander Lacey, the big cat circus trainer.
He said none of the training results in any harm to the animals.
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A Barclays Center exec also testified that they closely monitor the circus when it comes to their arena, and have never seen any animal abuse.
The circus “has a rich tradition of providing quality, family-based entertainment,” said senior VP of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.
But City Councilman Corey Johnson, chair of the Health Committee that is examining the bill, didn’t appear convinced.
After a Ringling Brothers exec said they travel with tranquilizer guns in case of emergency, he said, “Doesn’t that sort of tell us … that maybe these animals shouldn't be used for those purposes?” he said.
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He also said he thinks future generations will be ashamed of the way we treated animals.
“Wild animals should not be used for these purposes,” he said.
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