Santa Fe, New Mexico, has just banned traveling wild and exotic animal acts, becoming the latest area to take a significant step against animal exploitation for entertainment purposes. According to the legislation, all circuses, petting zoos, animal acts, shows, and exhibits are now banned from using wild or exotic animals, unless for “exclusively educational purposes.”

The City Council voted for the ban on September 13, 2017, the ordinance being brought by Councilor Signe Lindell and co-sponsored by Councilor Peter Ives. “We’re ready tonight to say Santa Fe will not tolerate the known cruelty that these exotic performing animals suffer,” said Lindell about the ruling, as reported by Santa Fe New Mexican.

A large number of animal rights activists and advocates testified in favor of the proposal, which is going to cut short the suffering of many animals used and often abused in circuses and similar “attractions.” There were also several voices claiming that the city was going “too far” and worried about the future of the local rodeos and the pet parade. Overall, however, the public support for the ban was overwhelming.

Although a great step in the right direction, the new ban does not include rodeos which will remain legal within the city limits, supposedly because of its longstanding tradition in the area. Doug Nava, a former state tax examiner, called the legislation “purely hypocritical” for that exclusion and pressed councilors not to pass the ban until it can “protect all animals.”

While the new ordinance does fail to address some forms of animal exploitation for human entertainment, it is certainly a big win for the animals nevertheless and has a chance to be the beginning of a series of further changes. “I think we need to start somewhere,” said Councilor Renee Villarreal regarding the concerns.

According to Animal Defenders International, so far 71 U.S. municipalities have introduced full or partial bans on circuses using animals. Hopefully, we will continue to see upward momentum for similar legislation and move closer to a world where animals don’t have to suffer for the sake of our entertainment.

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