Circus clowns arrive in Pittsburgh to fight city council plan to ban wild animal acts

PITTSBURGH — Circus clowns showed up Tuesday morning at Pittsburgh City Council to fight a proposal that would ban wild and exotic animals from performing in Pittsburgh.

City Council President Bruce Kraus introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban the use of animals, including monkeys, lions, tigers, bears and elephants.

“Have you ever heard a tiger purr? I’ve seen the tiger purr, and that’s only showing how good they do take care of their animals,” Jingles the clown said.

Ringling Bros. held its final circuses featuring elephants earlier this year. SeaWorld has said that it will gradually end orca shows and will no longer breed killer whales.

Busloads of people who oppose the ordinance came to Pittsburgh Tuesday, saying it could shut down the annual Shriner's circus as well as other circus visits to the city.

However, supporters of the ordinance said it will stop cruel and inhumane treatment of wild and exotic animals.

About 60 people were registered to speak at Tuesday's hearing, and both sides were represented.

"What would we have to gain by abusing animals? The answer is simple: it's nothing," said Paul Leavy, who opposes the ordinance to ban exotic animals.

Mary Bielich came out to speak in support of the ordinance and urged the city to move forward with it.

"This is our chance to exact positive change," she said. "This is our chance to be the trendsetters we are."

Council is expected to vote on the issue in the near future.