Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Bolivia Bans Circus Animals

In July, Bolivia became the first country in the world to ban the use of animals in circuses, a form of entertainment that goes back at least to ancient Rome. It was an investigation by a U.K.-U.S. advocacy group called Animal Defenders International that led to passage of the law. ADI had documented routine animal abuse in Bolivian circuses, including keeping bears in cages in which they could barely move. But the law led to a difficult question: What do you do with circus animals that can't be returned to the wild? Larger Bolivian circuses are simply planning to relocate to other countries, but smaller, family-owned companies that are going out of business will need to find homes for about two dozen lions and primates. Animal sanctuaries may be an answer, but the Bolivian government has pointed out that the sanctuaries are not always professionally staffed. In other words, the law of unintended consequences applies even to the most humane acts.