Sunday, October 12, 2008

Circus animals banned from town news - Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lions, tigers and elephants aren’t welcome in Newmarket.

Remember the runaway elephants when the circus came to town several years ago?

A proposed bylaw would ban such animals within the town.

Councillors will decide next week on banning exotic animals in the town and its facilities.

“I don’t believe my children or any other children gain anything but a skewed view when animals are poked and prodded to do things that are unnatural,” Councillor Joe Sponga said.

“To me, it’s just not entertaining.”

After reviewing a host of resources, including the Endangered Species Act and the Ontario SPCA, staff advised defining a wild animal would be too vague, leaving the bylaw open for challenge.

Instead, a list of prohibited animals was created and attached to the bylaw. The list includes endangered or protected and venomous or poisonous animals.

Animals are listed under three categories: mammals, reptiles and birds.

Animals that made the list are banned even on a short-term basis, unless an exception is granted.

Events in town will require a booking request to be reviewed by town staff before permission is granted. A policy for appealing the decision is also included.

But this doesn’t mean the town can’t have events.

“There can still be a circus, but with no animals,” Mr. Sponga said.

The idea is to ban the use of exotic animals for entertainment purposes, not to eliminate everything involving animals.

For example, Newmarket could still hold an agricultural fair because there is a clause stating animals will be allowed for educational purposes.

Exceptions are also made for veterinary hospitals, police matters, educational facilities, film or TV productions, wildlife rehabilitation centres and research facilities.

The prohibited list includes:
  • Cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, deer and elk
  • Pandas, wolves, tigers, lions, skunks, mongoose
  • Bats, sloths, armadillos, hares, kangaroos, possums
  • Chimps, gorillas, monkies
  • Elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus
  • Alligators, lizards larger than 2 metres, snakes larger than 3 metres
  • Ducks, geese, swans, ostriches, eagles, owls
For a full list, visit

What do you think of the town’s move to eliminate the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes? E-mail your responses to

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