Circuses and Rodeos Are No-Nos Thanks to New Pasadena Law

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Families in Pasadena, Calif., won't be going to the Big Top anymore. The circus has been outlawed. Rodeos, petting zoos and pony rides are also taboo under a new law.

The ordinance, passed almost unanimously by the Pasadena City Council this summer, bans the display of wild or exotic animals on public property.

"Animals can't speak for themselves, so we are here to speak for them," said Steve McNall of the Pasadena Humane Society.

The law doesn't apply to cat and dog shows, but businesses featuring any other kind of animal must be approved by the "poundmaster" in this case, the Humane Society.

"Animals are still considered a commodity," McNall said. "If the animal doesn't work out, turn it loose on the streets and get another one. We don't like that."

So far, Pasadena is the largest city to pass an anti-animal-exhibition ordinance, but the campaign is spreading across the country. Critics of the law, like the National Rodeo Association in Colorado, are warning animal exhibitors to keep an eye out for similar legislation in their areas.

But for business owners in the Pasadena region, it's already too late.

"This has been my business forever," said Teresa Pollock, 37, a single mother who makes a living taking her tropical animals to schools, parties and outdoor fairs. "What am I going to do? I am not good at waitressing."

Fans of Pasadena's Rose Bowl Parade needn't worry, however. The city's signature event which generates millions of dollars is exempt from the law. It's the smaller exhibitors who fear they'll fall prey to animal rights politics.

For Pollock, the Pasadena ordinance is just another example of too much government.

"This is the beginning of a fight," she said.

But backers of the new law think businesses that display exotic animals are putting the creatures at risk.

"There is no control over what happens with those animals," McNall said.