By BETH LAMONTAGNE HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
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April 09. 2012 10:41PM

Groups want Manchester aldermen to ban animal performances

MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen may soon take up a request from local animal rights activists to prevent performances within the city that use exotic animals as part of the show.

The request is targeted at companies like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which has performed in the city in recent years. Jean Slepian of Stoddard and dozens of animal rights supporters across the state sent a letter to Mayor Ted Gatsas last month asking the aldermen to pass an ordinance banning performances with exotic animals similar to ordinances passed in other cities, such as Stamford, Conn.

Alderman Ed Osborne asked Assistant City Solicitor Tom Arnold if such an ordinance would be possible, but Arnold was unsure if state law allowed such an ordinance.

The committee voted unanimously to send the issue to the full board of aldermen, which will likely send it on to the Committee on Administration for discussion. During that hearing, Arnold said, he should have more information about whether an exotic animal ban is allowed under state law.

In the documentation provided by Slepian was a United States Department of Agriculture news release announcing a record-setting $270,000 fine levied last year against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus' parent company Feld Entertainment for violating the Animal Welfare Act between June 2007 and August 2011. The USDA found that the circus abused elephants and other exotic animals during the animals' training. As part of the settlement, Feld agreed to create a training plan for all employees who work with animals.

For the past two years, the World Championship Chili Cookoff and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Verizon Wireless Arena were held the same weekend in October. The two events were hailed as successes for drawing thousands of people to the city.


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