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Mexico Circus Owners Say They Might Need to Kill Their Animals

The head of Mexico’s circus owners’ association says his group’s animals may die or be put down because of a ban on animal acts in circuses.

Armando Cedeno said new laws banning the use of animals made no provision for who will support the big cats, elephants, zebras and other animals when they can no longer work. Food and care for some of the animals can cost close to $100 per day.

“If we can’t feed them, we’re going to have to put them to sleep. We don’t have any other option,” said Cedeno, who gave reporters a tour Thursday of a ranch north of Mexico City where circuses — many of which are going out of business — have stored animals, trailers and circus equipment.

He said about 200 circuses in Mexico have permits to use animals, so the number of animals affected could be in the thousands.

A federal ban spearheaded by the country’s Green Party is set to go into effect in July. But Mexico City and several other states have already approved bans, which are meant to protect the animals from mistreatment.

Spokesman Stephen Payne said Friday his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus won’t come to Mexico this year because of the bans.

Circus owners say the law does little to protect animals already working in circus, and says nothing about bullfighting, which is still legal in Mexico, as is cock-fighting.

The new law requires circuses to submit lists of the animals they possess, and it would be made available to zoos interested in taking the animals.

But with Mexico’s public zoos strapped for cash and already full of animals, it is unclear whether they can take all — or any — of the circus animals, or how much they could give the owners in compensation.

Cedeno estimated that about 10 percent of the country’s circuses already have closed because of the ban.

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Nor are the circus’ human performing happy about it.

Trapeze artist Jaime Castillo is a fourth-generation circus performer. At 45, he is now jobless.

“I am out of work directly because of the Green Party campaign, and the drop In ticket sales that led us to bankruptcy,” Castillo said.