Essex Asked To Ban Animal Acts

Animal activists protest the Summer Circus Spectacular event at the WFCU Centre, July 2013.

The Town of Essex is being asked to ban the use of animals in circus performances.

The plea comes from a budding animal activist named Valerie Alexander, a Grade 7 student at Colchester North Public School.

Alexander admits she has just started her research and has never personally attended a circus act featuring animals, but says she’s familiar with the pain and suffering these animals endure for the entertainment of humans.

“I’m hoping this will ban circuses, maybe even across Ontario, because it’s just a lot of pain and suffering that people don’t see,” she says.

Grade 7 student Valerie Alexander address Essex council at its regular meeting on August 22, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Grade 7 student Valerie Alexander address Essex council at its regular meeting on August 22, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Bans on animal acts aren’t new. The City of Windsor passed a ban in 2002, but it was overturned by Ontario Superior Court of Justice just two years later when Xentel DM Incorporated, a producer of circuses challenged it. In his decision, Justice Richard Gates ruled that council may have enacted the bylaw in bad faith when it argued it was protecting public safety. There had been no incidents during Shrine Circus performances in the previous 18 years.

The issue didn’t die there.

As recently as last May, animal activists were again asking city council to pass a bylaw banning animal acts within city limits. There’s also a petition started by Christine Loop.

Monday night, Alexander received a warm reception from Essex town councillors.

“It makes me really happy because I know I’m being supported and everything I’m doing is going to end up making a difference,” she says.

— with files from Ricardo Veneza.