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Circuses in NYC now obligated to get permission for live animal performances

A 17-year-old brown bear

A 17-year-old brown bear Photo Credit: Getty/AFP/Joe Klamar

Anyone looking to put on a show featuring live animals that might want to make a meal of an audience member — bears or lions, for instance — will now have to get permission from the city.

In what was probably a long overdue decision, the Board of Health unanimously decided on Tuesday to require circuses and wildlife rehabilitators to obtain permits from the city for all shows involving animals in performances. Previously, circuses and other shows had voluntarily obtained permits.

Circuses must comply with federal laws, but only in regards to animal health and public safety.

The new regulations came about after a couple recent cases where the mix of live animals and audience might have ended without an uplifting encore.

In one case, a wildlife rehabilitator had proposed a thrilling show involving adult performing bears at a theater. The only problem was that the wildlife rehabilitator proposed to do this without any barrier between said beasts and the audience, risking a mauling or worse.

Another case involved a circus that had not tested animals for diseases that could have been spread to the human audience.


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