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Saturday, June 9, 2012

County Board backs ban on elephant performances at Alliant Center

 
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Broadway Bo amazes the crowd as he rolls across the floor on a barrel during a performance of the George Carden International Circus at the La Crosse
NICO SAVIDGE | Wisconsin State Journal  nsavidge@madison.com | 608-252-6120
June 9, 2012
Circuses and other attractions that use elephants for entertainment would no longer be welcome at the Alliant Energy Center under an ordinance the Dane County Board approved Thursday night that bans new contracts for performances with the animals.

Animal rights advocates have said such shows are inhumane and abusive to elephants.

Sup. Al Matano, 11th District, Madison, proposed the ordinance, which in its original form would have immediately banned all elephant attractions from county facilities.

But since the Alliant Energy Center has a contract with the Zor Shrine Circus, which features elephants, Sup. Robin Schmidt, 24th District, Monona, proposed an amended version that would honor existing contracts but prohibit new or renewed ones.

The council passed the amended ordinance and sent it to County Executive Joe Parisi.

If Parisi approves the ordinance, the Alliant Energy Center would honor its existing contract with the Shrine Circus, which runs through 2020. But the circus would not be able to renew the contract — and no performance could receive a new contract — if elephants are featured.

The county could have risked a legal fight by enacting a law that invalidated an existing contract, according to Schmidt. Matano said he would have liked to do more, but accepted the compromise.

"We have eight years worth of circuses left, which is quite a few for a practice we've deemed inappropriate," he said. "But we're moving in the right direction."

Matano said he has not spoken to Parisi about the ordinance, but is "optimistic" he will approve it.

Kevin Gould, the Alliant Energy Center's interim director, said he was glad the board amended the ordinance to honor the current contract, but said it would limit the venue's ability to draw other circuses.

"It's business we would have booked that we won't be booking," Gould said.

The center has no other contracts for attractions featuring elephants, he said.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_dc42c196-b1d0-11e1-9b8c-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1xIJsb1VB

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