In a press conference on Wednesday, former game show host of “The Price is Right” Bob Barker touted the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.
During the press conference, Barker described the cruelty inflicted upon exotic circus animals. He argued that trainers use the tactic of domination to teach the animals new tricks. The celebrity has consistently been outspoken about the proper treatment of animals.
“How do they dominate the animal? They beat it, with clubs, fists, black jacks, ax handles, golf clubs. They shock it with all sorts of electric devices. They use bull hooks on them…they even deprive them of food and even water to make them do these tricks,” said Barker to reporters on Capitol Hill.
The bill was introduced to United States Congress on Wednesday by Rep. James Morgan, and it seeks to amend the Animal Welfare Act by illegalizing the use of non-domesticated animals, including Asian elephants, lions, bears, and tigers, in traveling circuses.
“Big, wild animals should not be part of the traveling circus and simply put, animal acts in circuses are antiquated and belong in the past, in a time when humans were ignorant about the needs of the other species who share our planet,” Barker said in a statement.
The bill’s presentation proves timely, as recently Ohio officials were given no choice but to kill 48 exotic animals after their owner, Terry Thompson, released them from the Muskingum County Animal Farm on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Thompson, who owned the 46-acre reserve, was accused of animal abuse in the past, but due to Ohio’s relaxed laws on animal ownership, Thompson continued to run his menagerie.
Ohio Governor John Kasich held a press conference on Oct. 21 announcing an executive order that would put a moratorium on wild animal auctions as well as a review of all existing permits.
The incident prompted animal rights groups to target states with lenient laws concerning animal treatment, including Wisconsin and Illinois.
Although Illinois follows the Dangerous Animals Act of 1969, it does not require its 104 private wild animal owners to notify state officials of their location.