West Hollywood moves to ban commercial displays of exotic animals

West Hollywood officials John Duran, left, and Jeffrey Prang, who initiated the ban, are shown last year.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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A city where pets are formally recognized as “companions” and their owners as “guardians,” West Hollywood has long been known for its animal-friendly laws.

In its latest effort, the City Council on Monday will consider an ordinance that would ban commercial displays and performances involving wild and exotic animals.

The proposed ordinance, initiated by council members Jeffrey Prang and John Duran, is “intended to protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment,” according to city documents.


Circus acts, carnival performances, trade shows and parades involving such animals would be included under the ban, as would any event requiring wild animals to do tricks, fight or perform “for the entertainment, amusement or benefit of an audience,” the proposed ordinance states.

The ban would not include the display of wild or exotic animals for educational purposes or to groups of 20 or fewer people. A small audience, the documents state, would limit “the potential risk or danger to the public.”

The ban also would not apply to film productions with permits because the American Humane Assn. monitors animal welfare in productions, the proposed ordinance says.

In a lengthy letter to Prang, Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International, applauded the ordinance and thanked the city for considering it.

“We fully support creative entertainment using human performers, but this should not include the use of animals,” Creamer wrote.

The measure contains a list of more than two dozen animals that would be considered wild or exotic.


Bears and badgers are included. So are kangaroos, giraffes and tapirs.

Armadillos and civets too.

The ordinance would not be the first the city has considered in regard to animal rights.

In 2011, the City Council approved a ban on the sale of apparel made of fur, making West Hollywood one of the first municipalities in the country to adopt such a law. The fur ban is set to take effect this month.

In 1989, the council passed a resolution declaring West Hollywood to be a “cruelty-free zone for animals” and banned cosmetic testing on animals and the use of steel leg-hold traps.

It became the first city in the nation to ban cat declawing in 2003, and it banned the retail sale of cats and dogs in 2010.