Sunday, 22 July 2007, 23:33 PST
by Citizen Staff
The last circus show involving exotic animals has been seen in Prince George, at least for the time being. The Jordan World Circus, with its trio of elephants, was allowed to go ahead this weekend because it was booked prior to a new city bylaw banning all exotic animal acts.
Representatives of the circus industry could not be reached for comment following the era-ending performance but animal advocate Kathi Travers, the main voice behind the ban, said she was pleased to see the page turn.
“To me it is an ethical thing,” she said. “This tells me, the fact they (city council) did listen, that we are in a progressive town, a town I love. This is a wonderful community.”
The bylaw came into effect in April.
Travers, a provincial director on the SPCA board, said she felt it was not right for people to foist on animals the life of a travelling performer, that the tricks the animals did in the spotlight were not natural and not acceptable in a progressive society that cares for its members, human or not.
She stopped short of adding rodeos, dog shows, Lipizzaner Stallion events and other such animal-based spectacles to her future plans.
“When I went to council I went on one issue and one issue only,” she said, meaning circuses. She did stress that the SPCA would be there to scrutinize any animal-human activities to prevent cruelty.
“All I can say is, we will always want to stop abuse,” she said. “We owe it to our kids to be up front with them. Seeing an animal jump through a hoop, doing unnatural acts, is not being up front with children about animals. Kids can form their own opinions but you have to give them the facts.”
Travers has a long history of professional work with animals in the entertainment industry and in animal protection generally. She used to inspect zoos, circuses and film productions using animals before she moved to Prince George from the U.S.
Travers said the move to ban such exotic animal acts means Prince George has joined the ranks of 20 other B.C. communities who’ve also banned the shows.
She is a proponent of circus acts like Canada’s Cirque du Soleil that demonstrate the feats of humans.