Mexico City became the latest place in Mexico to ban the use of animals in circuses Monday as the city council voted overwhelmingly for the prohibition, with fines of $45,000 to $60,000.
The law does not apply to water shows with dolphins or bull fighting nor does it prohibit the use of animals in Mexico’s traditional rodeos, known as “charreadas.”
Circuses will be given one year to change their acts.
Several states and cities in Mexico had previously approved such bans, which allow acrobats, clowns and other circus acts to continue.
Circuses argue their animals are treated humanely and say some actually enjoy performing. But animal rights activists argue the animals are often held in confined spaces with poor conditions and are forced into performing.
Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., which over the weekend ended a two-week stay in Mexico’s capital, said the circus maintains the highest standards on animal protection.
The measure “doesn’t say anything about rodeos, bullfighting or anything else so it does strike us as somewhat hypocritical,” Payne said
He said Ringling Bros. is open to working with authorities at different levels to see that the circus protects animals and to bring the event back to Mexico City.
“If their goal is animal welfare improvements, regulate them. Otherwise you’re just driving these circuses to look for venues outside the federal district,” Payne said.