Ordinance would ban using elephants and other animals in traveling shows

Update: Milford's Board of Aldermen voted Monday night on an amended ordinance that would ban animal exhibitors who do not have their USDA license to exhibit animals. The amended version, according to Alderman Frank Smith, was in response to several animal experts who spoke at Monday night's ordinance committee meeting and said an outright ban on animal shows and demonstrations was inappropriate.

Previous article: Elephants mark tonight’s agenda for the Board of Aldermen’s Ordinance Committee.

The city has been presented with an ordinance that would ban traveling shows or circuses that include wild or exotic animals.

Those animals include monkeys, chimpanzees, snakes, bears, elephants and several others, such as kangaroos and crocodiles.

The ordinance proposes a $5,000 fine per animal for anyone found in violation.

Milford resident Lorrie Davies has been pushing for this kind of legislation, primarily in response to circuses held at the Westfield mall.

Davies, a passionate animal rights activist, believes the circus can be just as entertaining minus its animal acts.

She, as well as the proposed ordinance, points out that “training techniques, devices or agents used to make the animals perform are many times abusive, cruel and/or stressful.”

Stressed animals also pose a danger to the people in attendance, the ordinance states.

Circus representatives disagree. Renee Storey, Cole Brothers' vice president of administration, has said in the past that circus people treat animals well because they love them and work closely with them. The USDA requires a veterinarian supervisor be in place to oversee a health program for the animals. And while the vet doesn't travel with the circus, the circus uses veterinarians along the way to make sure the animals receive regular examinations and inoculations, she added.

“By touring with animals, we raise consciousness about endangered species,” Storey said. “We make people care about the elephants and the tigers. There's nothing like seeing animals up close.”

The Board of Aldermen Ordinance Committee is scheduled to discuss and vote on the proposed ordinance when they meet at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

The Ordinance Committee will then pass along the proposal, with a recommendation to adopt or not, to the full Board of Aldermen, which meets at 7:30 p.m. at Milford City Hall.

Alderman Martin Hardiman said he thinks the Ordinance Committee may suggest some modifications to the proposed ordinance before passing it along to the full Board of Aldermen.