PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They are the sights and sounds of a traditional circus – lions, tigers and elephants.
But if a proposal by Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus is approved, the show may not go on, in Pittsburgh
“I think the timing is good, and I think the culture right now is good, and I think public awareness right now is good, that there are better ways for entertainment to exist,” said Kraus who read the legislation at a City Council meeting.
The ordinance would ban wild animals from performances in the city.
Kraus’s concern is the way they are treated.
“It’s really this intentional very narrow window of breeding, caging, training and displaying of an animal, and solely for the purpose,” he said.
This week, Ringling Brother’s Circus retired its elephants. They’d been used in shows for 200 years.
“These animals are part of our family; they’re part of the circus family,” said Paul Leavy, circus chairman of the Syria Shriners of Pittsburgh, an organization that has sponsored a circus with wild animals in the city for 67 years.
They oppose the ordinance.
“I don’t think anybody on council is an expert on animals; our folks, however, are,” said Leavy, “If we’re following these guidelines and we are passing our inspections, what’s the point of banning them in Pittsburgh?”
People in Pittsburgh offered varying opinions.
“I thought they had a country club life, so I don’t know the behind the scenes story,” said Kathy Russell of Mt. Lebanon. “But, I certainly wouldn’t support anything that seemed cruel or unkind to animals.”
“That’s kind of like a rock and a hard place,” said Ayanna Jones of the North Side, “because it is amazing entertainment and some people will never see that unless it’s in that setting.”
“I guess if I saw them being mistreated it would be different, I’ve never witnessed it,” added Dawn Seymour of McCandless.
Educational, research and rehabilitative programs would be exempt from the ordinance. That means it wouldn’t apply to the Pittsburgh Zoo and the National Aviary.