Circuses featuring exotic animals should scratch the city of Delaware off their schedules.
City Council members on Feb. 27 voted 5-0 – with Mayor Carolyn Riggle abstaining – to approve legislation barring circuses, carnivals and menageries that employ "wild or exotic animals" from receiving a permit from the city.
Before the vote, City Attorney Darren Shulman detailed a change made to the legislation ahead of the fifth reading. He said the updated wording makes it clear zoos are not banned under the legislation.
Shulman said he did not think the proposed legislation barred zoos, but he included the revised language to be more clear. He said future city officials may read the ban on menageries displaying exotic animals as a ban on zoos.
"Rather than getting in a fight years from now ... about what the definition of menagerie is, I just built in that exception," he said.
To be exempt from the law, zoos must have accreditation from either the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Zoological Association of America. Circuses with domesticated-animal acts or human performers are not banned under the legislation.
At the same meeting, council voted 5-0 to update the city's existing ban on residents owning or displaying wild or exotic animals. The updated ban no longer features an exception for circuses.
Shulman said he added exceptions for such animals as canaries, finches, rats and nonvenomous, noncrocodilian reptiles, which were not explicitly allowed in the original legislation.
Although the legislation included an exception for farm animals, Riggle said the lack of a specific allowance for racehorses worried her somewhat.
"We are the (home of) the Little Brown Jug and I just have a concern," she said.
City Manager Tom Homan said officials with the Delaware County Agricultural Society, which oversees the Delaware County Fair, had asked council to tweak the law to mention racehorses.
"They want to make sure explicitly that this will not impact them," he said.
Council voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the legislation to clarify racehorses are not among the animals barred from the city.
Council began discussing changing its rules for circuses and exotic animals last spring after declining to approve Florida-based Circus Pages' request to perform at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Council members cited safety concerns and the proximity of the request to the performance date ahead of the decision to table the request.