No elephants, tigers in Ketchum?
Council shows support for limiting circus acts
By :GREGORY FOLEY
April 22nd, 2014
Ketchum,ID---It might soon be illegal to bring circus elephants, lions and tigers into the city of Ketchum.
Ketchum City Council members voted unanimously on Monday to take the first step in approving an amendment to city code to restrict in city limits the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in traveling circuses and exhibitions. Council members approved a first reading of the amendment after a presentation in support of the change by five students from the Sage School in Hailey. The council typically adopts new legislation after three public readings.
The five students-symbolically bound together in rope that simulated circus chains-read a prepared statement to the council while a video played showing various species of exotic wildlife being abused by people. One by one, the students made statements that they said were "based on science and fact."
"There's no such thing as a domestic elephant," one said.
"[Baby elephants] are tied down with whips and chains," another said.
The group told the council that lions and tigers in circuses are confined in small cages 99 percent of the time. They said circus elephants-which are sometimes beaten and prodded with heavy bull hooks-live to be an average of 14 years old, while elephants in the wild live to be 70.
The initiative was put forth by Ketchum resident Maya Burrell, who said abuse of circus elephants is not just an issue of ethics, but of public safety. She said many captive elephants develop transmittable tuberculosis and have sometimes killed people in episodes of rage.
Councilman Jim Slanetz said he thinks residents would not be losing anything if the city adopted such a restriction.
"We're not hurting our community by doing this, in any shape or form," he said.
Councilman Baird Gourlay said he believes it is part of city leaders' mission to take a stand on important issues.
"If a small community like ours can't make a statement like this, then why are we elected officials?" he said.
City Attorney Stephanie Bonney noted that the state does a law against animal abuse, which provides for misdemeanor charges for the first two offenses and a felony charge for the third offense. She also noted that the proposed code amendment provides exemptions for camels, bison and llamas, and would not limit rodeos.
The proposed amendment will be reviewed a second time at a future meeting.