Minneapolis City Council member Ralph Remington will introduce an amendment Friday that would ban wild animals in circuses that visit Minneapolis. The proposed ordinance, pushed by Circus Reform Yes and called the Animal Protection Amendment, takes aim at what the group sees as inhumane treatment of wild animals. Council member Cam Gordon is sponsoring the legislation.
“The tools of the trade tell the story. They use bull hooks, which are long, sharp rods with metal hooks. You’ve got hotshots — electric prods — whips and chains,” Nick Coughlin of CRY told the Star Tribune in March. “These are the tools they use to train these animals to do these tricks.” Coughlin says that keeping wild animals chained up for 22 hours a day is cruel.
The measure is supported by outgoing Archbishop Harry Flynn, the Somalian Women’s Association, Somali Community of Minnesota, the Wildcat Sanctuary, Coalition for Animal Rights Education and Compassionate Action for Animals, among others.
But not everyone agrees the amendment is needed. “I think it makes our city look like we’re at the extreme end of the spectrum, and I think it makes us look like we don’t have anything better to do,” Council President Barb Johnson told the Downtown Journal in May. “We are right now at the legislature asking for debt relief on the Target Center. It would be, I think, viewed with such skepticism by legislators if we’re up there asking for handouts with the Target Center while at the same time turning away forms of revenue,” Johnson said in May. The ban would prevent the Target Center from hosting the Shriner’s Circus.
Council member Remington said the same thing until he researched the issue. “I was like, ‘What? Yeah, right!'” he said. “But when I investigated and learned more about it, I realized it is a serious issue.”
Councilmember Cam Gordon responded to constituent concerns on his Second Ward blog, and disagreed with people and colleagues who find the proposed ordinance a waste of time. “I disagree with the basic assumptions of this argument… Policymakers can and must do more than one thing at once.”
Ordinance supporters, including Circus Reform Yes will meet Friday, June 29 at 9 am at Minneapolis City Hall to push for the ordinance, which has been delayed several times this year. Supporters are hopeful that Friday morning will be the day they have been waiting for.