Wanted: homes for wild animals as Mexico bans them from circuses

Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:10pm EDT
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By Anahi Rama

TIZAYUCA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico is searching for homes for at least 2,000 tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras and other exotic beasts that will soon be banned from the country's circuses.

Circus owners are worried about the fate of their animals, which they say are too expensive to keep once the ban kicks in, while government and zoo officials are grappling with myriad difficulties in relocating animals raised to perform tricks under the big top.

The prohibition does not take effect until July 8, but many circuses have already shut down. The legislation stipulates that such animals should evolve in their natural habitat and aims to avoid animal cruelty that civil organizations have long lobbied against.

"We are waiting for a response from the government about what will happen to our animals," said Armando Cedeno, president of the national association of circus owners and artists.

Cedeno estimates there are around 4,000 circus animals in Mexico, double the government's tally.

In Tizayuca, near Mexico City, 45-year-old animal tamer Bruno Raffo begins his work day at 7:30 a.m., tending to 13 tigers in his charge.

It costs 3,000 Mexican pesos ($194) daily just to feed the tigers, he said, and there are also his own salary and bills from specialized veterinarians for periodic check-ups.

Hundreds of circus workers have been laid off, but Raffo is sticking around, for now.   Continued...

A trainer moves a dromedary during a show at the Cedeno Hermanos Circus in Mexico City March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Henry Romero