Action Alert: Support the Circus in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Senate Bill 1626 Scheduled for Hearing on February 3, 2014

 A hearing on Massachusetts Senate Bill 1626 has been scheduled for Monday, February 3 at approximately 2:00PM before the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development.  This bill would ban the use of certain elephant training tools, including tethers and the elephant guide (or ankus) for any traveling exhibitions. If this bill is passed into law, it would prevent Ringling Bros. and other circuses from visiting Massachusetts by preventing the use of widely accepted elephant management tools.  This bill would also make it impossible for elephant rides to be given at local fairs and events in Massachusetts.

SB 1626 was introduced by Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) and is similar to the Senator’s anti-circus efforts in past legislative sessions. The opposition efforts of Circus Fans and other industry supporters have been very valuable in defeating this legislation in the past, and we are asking for your help again this session.

 E-mails and phone calls in opposition to SB 1626 are very much needed.  The contact information for each member of the Tourism & Arts Committee is listed below.  Communications from circus supporters who live in a Committee member’s legislative district are especially helpful.  In addition, if anyone is available to speak at the Committee hearing on February 3, please contact Mary Lou Kelly at to get further details. 

True animal experts know that a safe and secure environment is the only acceptable and successful method of training any animal, including elephants.  Senate Bill 1706 is only directed at circuses because its supporters want to ban the circus, not protect animals. The elephant guide, sometimes called a bull hook or ankus, has been used by elephant handlers for thousands of years.  Elephant handlers in zoos, nature preserves and circuses throughout the world use the guide as an extension of the trainer’s arm along with a voice command.

 Further, the guide is a proven and humane husbandry tool accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates all zoos and circuses, and is approved by the International Elephant Foundation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Elephant Managers Association.

 The care and handling of all animals in circuses is already subject to strict federal, state and local animal welfare and cruelty laws. All circuses and traveling exhibitors that perform in Massachusetts, including Ringling Bros., are inspected by state authorities and receive unannounced inspections by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act.

 Thank you for your efforts in contacting Massachusetts legislators on this important issue!


Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development


Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives
Chair, Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development
Room 519
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 722-1604

Representative Cory Atkins
Chair, Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development
Room 195
State House
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 722-2015


Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Phone: (617) 722-1625

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston)
Phone: (617) 722-1673

Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem)
Phone: (617) 722-1410

Senator Daniel A. Wolf (D-Harwich)
Phone: (617) 722-1570

Senator Robert L. Hedlund (R-Weymouth)
Phone: (617) 722-1646


Representative Michael Finn (D-West Springfield)
Phone: (617) 722-2637

Representative William Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lee)
Phone: (617) 722-2582

Representative John V. Fernandes (D-Milford)
Phone: (617) 722-2220

Representative Denise Andrews (D-Orange)
Phone: (617) 722-2460

Representative Paul W. Mark (D-Peru)
Phone: (617) 722-2013

Representative Chris Walsh (D-Framingham)
Phone: (617) 722-2013

Representative Brian R. Mannal (D-Barnstable)
Phone: (617) 722-2582

Representative Daniel M. Donahue (D-Worcester)
Phone: (617) 722-2006

Representative Donald H. Wong (D-Saugus)
Phone: (617) 722-2488

Representative Steven S. Howitt (D-Seekonk)
Phone: (617) 722-2305