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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh City Council is expected to take up an issue on Tuesday that could affect what tools people who work with animals can use, and it could change the way the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium operates.
“We work really hard on trying to set up conservation programs and breeding programs, and we won’t be able to do those things if you effectively take away all those tools that we use,” said Henry Kacprzyk, the curator of reptiles at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
The bill, proposed by City Council President Bruce Kraus, is a revision of an earlier proposal that would have banned live animal acts from the city.
The revised version will allow the acts, but ban tools like electric prods, whips, or bull hooks.
“This revised portion takes the tools away we need to properly handle the animals, so essentially we can’t bring the animals,” said Paul Leavy, of the Shrine Circus.
Both the zoo and the Shriners say the wording of the bill gives the wrong impression – that many of the so-called “tools” outlined are outdated and no longer considered appropriate.
“Things that are in this bill, such as hacksaws, pitchforks, baseball bats, they’re not used. We would never condone any kind of abuse on our animals,” said Leavy.
“We don’t use force to get compliance from animals, we use a positive set up and we reward their behavior,” Kacprzyk added.
In an earlier interview, Kraus explained the bill is very specific in its intent.
“It’s really just this intentional, very narrow window of breeding, caging, and training and displaying of an animal, and soley for that purpose,” Kraus said in May of 2016.
Council has already given a preliminary vote of approval on the bill. But opponents of the bill are hoping it’s not too late to revise again what goes on the books.