West Hollywood bans commercial displays of exotic animals

West Hollywood officials John Duran, left, and Jeffrey Prang initiated the ban.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

West Hollywood on Monday banned commercial displays and performances involving wild and exotic animals, including kangaroos, giraffes and bears.

Armadillos, civets and badgers are also among the more than two dozen animals in the ban that activists applauded as “compassionate and forward-thinking.”

More than a dozen people discussed the measure before the West Hollywood City Council on Monday night. One woman held up a bullhook used to prod elephants while speaking in favor of the ban.


After the vote, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement, saying West Hollywood had sent “a clear message” that the city welcomes entertainment -- “but not at the expense of animals’ well-being.”

It’s the latest step regarding animal rights for a city that has already banned the sale of apparel made of fur and that recognizes pet owners as “guardians.”

The 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 animals on the list are 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 ordinance states.

The ban does 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 does not apply to film productions with permits because the American Humane Assn. monitors animal welfare in productions.


In a 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.

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.

The fur ban is set to take effect this month.


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