Bolivia - World's First Country to Ban Use of All Animals in Circuses: President- H.E. Juan Evo Morales Ayma & Congress Member-Ximena Flore
Circus animals lead agonizingly cruel and stressful lives, being confined to small cages and constantly being transported thousands of miles from city to city. Life on the road does not provide them an opportunity to have adequate food, water, exercise or veterinary care. Lacking social interaction, mental stimulation and a regular physical work out, these animals often go insane with boredom and exhibit behaviors typically seen in abused animals such as head rocking, repetitive movements and chewing their own limbs. They often become sick due to unhygienic conditions and insufficient physical activity.
In 2009, to stop the cruelty involved in animal circuses, the Bolivian Congress passed the 4040 Law of Circuses without Animals to ban the use of all wild and domesticated animals in traveling circuses. Wild animals or certain species have already been prohibited in circuses in Austria, Costa Rica, Croatia, Israel, Singapore, Finland and Denmark. Bolivia distinguished herself as the first to ban every wild and domestic animal from circuses.
Ms. Anita Serrano Revollo, co-founder and president of “Love for the Animals – Bolivia,” was a co-author of the law. She had initiated the campaign that brought about this decision with the support of The Honorable Ximena Flores, Member of the Bolivian Congress, and UK-based animal protection group Animal Defenders International. In describing how the law became a reality in parliament, Ms. Flores said, “We had to work in a much more systematic way, to win the 130 votes from the members of parliament and the 27 votes from the senators.” “It gained the acceptance of the deputies, was approved, and finally reached the office of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Evo Morales. With that acceptance, we had the opening that we needed, and the confidence of the President who finally signed that decree into law, which now governs the entire country.”
The 4040 Law of Circuses without Animals states that the use of animals in circuses “constitutes an act of cruelty.” It sets fines for transgressions and allows for animals to be taken away and to be placed in a better environment by officials. The Bolivian government immediately started to inform the general public about this new law. The media also played an important role in spreading awareness. In addition, work began to bring former circus animals to new, safe homes in sanctuaries.
For their pioneering legislation to protect all kinds of animals from exploitation in circuses, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored Congresswoman Ximena Flores with the Shining World Leadership Award. Furthermore, for signing the bill into law, His Excellency Juan Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, was also a recipient of the Shining World Leadership Award.
In receiving Master’s Award and Her various publications from our Association members, Congresswoman Flores said, “It is an honor and I truly receive this gift with great humility, but more than for me, I receive it on behalf of all of you. There are many of us who did it, many people who are here, whose faces I recognize, and I acknowledge their struggle. Then, of course, many thanks and my greetings and respect to Master Ching Hai, on behalf of the Bolivian people also, because I’m sure that Her thinking is shared by many of us, that we are facing the same direction, to have a more humane world free from animal suffering. Thank you very much.”
Heaven bless you, Congresswoman Ximena Flores, President Evo Morales and Bolivia, for leading the way in protecting the well-being of our animal co-inhabitants. Many thanks as well to concerned citizen Ms. Anita Serrano Revollo for your continuing efforts to bring this and other issues on animal protection to your leaders’ attention. May nations everywhere join in eradicating the suffering of circus animals and eventually all animals, as we pray for harmony between humankind and every part of God’s creation, for a joyful future.