San Francisco Board Votes to Ban Wild, Exotic Animal Performances in City
By John Wildermuth April 14, 2015 A child from San Francisco watches Kelli Ann the elephant duri...
By John Wildermuth
April 14, 2015
If the circus is coming to town, that town won’t be San Francisco under a new regulation that would ban all performances by wild and exotic animals in the city.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday for the ordinance proposed by Supervisor Katy Tang, which is designed, according to the measure, to “protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment and to protect the public from the danger posed by the use of wild and exotic animals for entertainment.”
But for Tang, that’s the bare minimum.
“We want to address the inequalities for a population that can’t speak for themselves,” she told her fellow supervisors.
The ban affects just about any animal but domestic cats, dogs and horses and livestock like cattle, sheep, pigs and goats. Not only would lions and tigers and bears be barred from local performances, but so would elephants, sea lions, ferrets, dolphins and even ostriches and emus.
The ban, which includes movie and television work, doesn’t sit well with the entertainment industry. A letter Monday from the Motion Picture Association of America argued that the ordinance would prevent animals from working in movies filmed in San Francisco, even if the shows had proper permits and animal handlers approved by the federal government. The group urged the city to exempt the industry.
While the state is working hard to keep movie production in the state, along with “the good middle class jobs that are created by the productions,” the industry group argued, “we are concerned that the draft ordinance would undermine that important public policy.”
That view received little sympathy from the board, with Supervisor Scott Wiener arguing that the training and transportation of performing animals is nothing less than torture, something that shouldn’t be allowed “in the city of St. Francis.”
For Tang, the new ordinance, which will be back in front of the board for final approval next week, is just a start. With other cities across the state already putting up their own prohibitions on animal performances, she’s hoping to gain momentum for a statewide or even national ban.
It’s an attempt, she said, “to talk about equality and justice.”
John Wildermuth is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.