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article imageCatalonia, Spain launches bid to ban animals in circus shows

By Anne Sewell     Oct 30, 2013 in World
Barcelona - On Tuesday this week, two years after the animal-loving region of Catalonia in Spain banned bullfighting, they are now lobbying to ban the use of animals in circus shows.
Jordi Rull, a representative of CiU, the governing Catalan nationalist party, said on Tuesday that lawmakers proposed a bill in regional parliament to "modify the animal protection law and include a ban on using animals in the circus."
Adding that the number of animal circuses has declined in the region, Rull said, "Circuses can be attractive and do different and fascinating things that draw adults and children, without needing to use animals."
Five of the seven parties in the regional parliament, who between them hold a majority of seats, backed the bill, said Rull.
The text of the bill decries the treatment of circus animals, stating that they have to perform "unnatural" acts in the circus and undergo "violent training methods." It further states that animals develop nervous disorders when kept in small spaces.
Rull also quoted Gandhi’s famous phrase that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” adding that “with proposals like today’s, Catalonia comes closer to the rest of Europe.”
Carlos López, president of the animal rights association LIbera, expressed satisfaction at the initiative, praising the fact that “once again, the Catalan parliament is leading the fight in defense of animal rights.”
López said that Catalonia will be the first Spanish region to prohibit the use of animals in circus acts, although he did state that 99 municipalities in the region already have a similar ban in place. This will increase the figure across Spain to 133 municipalities.
However, according to Nacho Pedrera, head of a group supporting animals in circuses, Sí al Circo con Animales, stated that circuses were hit with "constant inspections" and that these were held "several times a week" and were often unannounced.
Speaking to Spain's El País newspaper, Pedrera dismissed allegations of abuse, stating, "It's not true that training sessions are held behind closed doors."
"There are a lot of open sessions which the public can watch. The whip is a thing of the past," he added.
Aida Gascón of animal rights group Ánima Naturalis said circus animals were treated far worse than zoo animals, saying that an itinerant lifestyle, together with aggressive and hidden training methods along with animal trafficking practices, were bad news for animals in the circus industry.
Photo was used in protests by PETA against the Ringling Bros. Circus on 15 July 2010.
Photo was used in protests by PETA against the Ringling Bros. Circus on 15 July 2010.
Heather Norwood
In 2008, Catalonia passed a law recognizing animals as having "physical and psychic sensitivity". In July 2010 the Catalonian parliament approved a ban on bullfighting with the last bullfight held in September 2011.
However, several representatives in the parliament did note that there is still some way to go before animal welfare is truly established in the region. They quoted the examples of the "correbous" (running of the bulls) and "bous embolats" (bulls with flammable material attached to their horns), which are two traditional practices still seen in Catalan local fiestas, with the latter being the more horrendous practice.
However, bullfighting is perceived by many Catalans to be a purely Spanish tradition.
Francesco of the Mighty Mendozas circus act.
Francesco of the Mighty Mendozas circus act.
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