Circus animals are banned in these Massachusetts towns

The circus was a big deal here in western Massachusetts until the cries of animal rights activists got really loud. The town of Dalton hosted the Kelly Miller Circus every year until things changed in the late 2010s.

Global opinion on the use of wild animals in circuses has shifted significantly in recent years towards the use of animals in performances. Mexico banned the practice just last month, joining much of Europe and Central and South America in enforcing the law.

Circus operators have sworn over the years that the animals are treated with respect, but numerous violations have proven otherwise. Traveling is a burden for the animals, an unnatural life and the tricks they perform frighten them.

Eight states and nearly 150 other communities in 37 states have already passed various restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows – including fourteen Massachusetts communities: Amherst, Braintree, Cambridge, Mendon, Northampton, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Provincetown, Quincy, Revere , Somerville, Topsfield, Weymouth and Wilmington.

The wildly popular Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus ceased operations in 2017 due to overwhelming public outcry in defense of animals, but reopened in 2023 with its animal-free version.

But while some in the industry have evolved, there are others, such as the Shriner, Carden Circus, Loomis Bros. Circus and Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, that continue to use wild animals. Tigers, lions, bears and sea lions are still forced to perform circus tricks at many county and state fairs and festivals.

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Gallery credit: Stacker

Anna Harden

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