June 12, 2013, BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – The Colombian Congress today passed Bill 244,2012 to end the use of wild animals in both static and traveling circuses, after a six-year public campaign following the release of critical evidence of animal suffering collected by investigators from Animal Defenders International (ADI).
ADI led the campaign as part of its global Stop Circus Suffering initiative and the organization expressed its delight that the years of undercover investigations, scientific reviews, public debates and awareness-raising days had resulted in the ban being secured.
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: "We congratulate the Colombian Congress for approving this Bill and are delighted that Colombia has shown that animals should not suffer for our entertainment. ADI stands ready to assist with rescue and relocation of the animals, whenever the Government of Colombia requires assistance. After this momentous decision, it is important that these animals are allowed to live out their days, free from the circus and the suffering they have endured."
House Representative Augusto Posada, author of the Bill, said: "This is good news for the country because with the prohibition of the use of animals in circuses we are taking a significant step in the conservation of wildlife, the awareness to preserve nature and thus demonstrate that as humans we can respect the status and dignity of other species. Those who still have animal shows will have two years to evolve and allow the return of these creatures to a suitable habitat and to create new forms of entertainment without the presence of animals."
Eduardo Peña, ADI campaigns coordinator for Latin America: "Our warmest thanks and congratulations go to more than 50 national animal protection organizations who helped with this bill, and of course the individuals, celebrities, academics, officials, congressmen, artists and non-animal circuses who joined with us to stop animal suffering in circuses in Colombia. Now circuses have the opportunity to strengthen human talent, support the Colombian Government’s ethical position and evolve shows that respect human values and protect nature."
ADI investigators worked undercover in South American circuses for two years filming, photographing and takes notes on the deprived environments, small cages, psychological suffering and the violent and brutal treatment of animals when being handled and trained. The evidence shocked the continent and governments in South America have been swift to take action to show that such treatment of animals is unacceptable in civilized society.
The ADI campaign was launched in Colombia in 2007 with a screening of its first investigation, the images from which were some of the most sickening ADI investigators have ever seen. Since the launch of the investigations, bans have been introduced in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay.
Bill 244, 2012 sought to prohibit all animals in circuses, however domestic species were excluded in the Senate. Circuses will have two years to comply with the new legislation.