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August 3, 2021

Draft decision to ban animal performances at Bucharest ‘Globus’ Circus & Variety Company

Animal performances might be banned from the shows of Bucharest’s ‘Globus’ Circus & Variety Company, according to a draft decision on the agenda of the Monday meeting of the General Council of the Bucharest Municipality.

According to a proposed amendment to the Council’s decision No. 414/2016, “animal training” or “menagerie tours” are no longer included in the circus scope of activity. The responsibility of providing customs clearance documents for the animals of foreign artists performing in Globus shows is struck off the responsibilities of the company’s International Relations Department, while the Technical and Administration Department will no longer be tasked with approving the diet lists for animal guest performances, completing procedures for sanitary & veterinary approval, or ensuring the transport of the animals during in-country and foreign trips.

The Bucharest ‘Globus’ Circus & Variety Company will act as “show and gig producer, providing the creative, directing and scriptwriting activity, choreography, music, costume design, set design, the costumes, scenery, props, with its own artists and contributors, and is authorized to subsequently enter contracts with domestic and foreign partners to run cultural and artistic programs.”

Under the draft decision, the animals in the care of the ‘Globus’ Circus & Variety Company will be relocated as per a protocol between this public institution and the ‘Vier Pfoten’ Foundation in six months at the most after the decision’s coming into effect. Throughout this period the circus management shall see to the welfare of the animals.

The memorandum of reasons signed by Bucharest General Mayor Gabriela Firea states that according to the Circus statutes, the scope of the institution is to “stage and conduct artistic productions/co-productions consisting of circus shows and festivals, films presented to Bucharest, Romanian and foreign audiences with a view to promoting culture and educating the public, seeking to carry on the tradition of circus arts, to best capitalize on the existing artistic potential, encourage innovation and creativity, promote home-grown and universal values of performing arts at national and international level.

The document cites expert studies “that provide scientific arguments that in circus shows wild animals are subjected to ill-treatment that is incompatible with their needs and the natural habitats of the species, and that most often such circumstances result in aggressive behavior, a lot of suffering and even the premature death of the animals.”

“The animals are compelled to perform various tricks they learned but which do not come naturally to them and do not fit with their nature. It is impossible for circuses to provide the animals living conditions that could match those in the wild. Therefore, wild animal training experts argue that a general ban should be issued on using wild animals in circuses,” the document adds.

According to the General Mayor, cages and circus or exhibition enclosures cannot fit the needs of far-roaming species or of the animals that live in large groups in the wilderness. In time, isolation and limited movement generate stereotype behaviours.

“For instance, a lion’s habitat covers some 400 square kilometers, double the area of Bucharest. In circuses, ‘the King of the Beasts’ has maximum 12 square meters to move about and his hunting and running instincts are completely repressed by brutal coercion,” reads the explanatory memorandum.

As for elephants, forcing them to sit up on the hind legs or on the head causes in time health issues and even death. The strong light and applause are additional stress factors for the animals performing in the arena, the document remarks.

The act also mentions the European and international context, as 19 EU member states have fully or partially banned the use of wild animals in shows.

The municipality rolled out plans to forbid wild animal circus acts after a powerful fire broke out on January 12 at a shelter accommodating ‘Globus’ Circus retired animals, killing 11, two tigers included. The incident has drawn an outcry from animal activists.

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