ACTION ALERT: California Educational Program Ban


On March 28, California Senate Bill 313 was amended (a second amendment following the March 21 amendment). The language is now very different. The bill specifically bans animals (other than domesticated dogs, cats, and horses) in traditional circuses.

The educational programs which were affected under the introduced language have accepted the amendments and now support the bill. The latest amendment also specifically exclude rodeos (not considered circuses).

Circus is defined as "a performance before a live audience in which entertainment consisting of a variety of acts such as acrobats, aerialists, clowns, jugglers, or stunts is the primary attraction or principal business."

The new language can be read at

We are archiving the below information which applies to the original text of the bill only. All of the legislator contact information remains the same.

NOTE: Animal educators in California are now supporting SB313 with the March 28 amendments.


California Senate Bill 313, ban on "traveling animal acts"

Imagine being fined $25,000 for taking a llama to a 4-H fair or a lemur to a Boy Scouts program. Senate Bill 313 does just that! With the very misleading title of "Circus Cruelty Prevention Act," the devil is in the details. Actually, the devil is in the radical animal rights groups pushing this bill, including PeTA.

It would ban many educational outreach and other programs with animals. There is a species list rather than a blanket ban on all non-native species but there are larger issues with these bills. These animal act bans place responsible animal owners into the same category as criminals conducting acts of animal cruelty. These bills are sold as a way to prevent animal cruelty. Animal welfare and cruelty laws already exist nationwide. These animal act bans are superfluous laws that will be selectively enforced, making criminals out of good people.

Even with a defined species list, the bill can always be amended to add more species, or the law could be amended after it becomes effective (which is what we are seeing in Illinois).

"wild or exotic animal" is defined as:

1. Artiodactyla (such as hippopotamuses, giraffes, camels, and llamas, but excluding domesticated cattle, swine, sheep, and goats).
2. Canidae (such as wolves, but excluding domesticated dogs).
3. Crocodilia (such as alligators and crocodiles).
4. Elasmobranchii (such as sharks).
5. Elephantidae (elephants).
6. Felidae (such as lions, tigers, and leopards, but excluding domesticated cats).
7. Marsupialia (such as kangaroos).
8. Primates (such as apes, monkeys, and lemurs).
9. Perissodactyla (such as zebras, tapirs, and rhinoceroses, but excluding domesticated horses, donkeys, and mules).
10. Pinnipedia (such as seals, sea lions, and walruses).
11. Ratitae (such as ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, and emus).
12. Ursidae (bears).
13. Xenarthra (such as sloths).

The only exemptions are for AZA-accredited zoos and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).

LINK to bill text:

You can find contact details for your Senators at

It was introduced by Senator Hueso on Feb. 15 and assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and Judiciary Committee on Feb 28.

Sample Messaging
(Sample letters and also Talking Points)

Voice your opposition and educate legislators now!
TAKE ACTION by doing one or, preferably, all of the below.
Remember to be civil and professional at all times.

PLEASE NOTE: Emails are great to get their attention, but mailed letters, faxes, and phone calls have a far greater impact!

  1. Make phone calls. Please state in your phone call, “I am calling to oppose Senate Bill 313 and would like my opposition to be placed into public record.” or similar.
  2. Fax letters.
  3. Mail letters;
  4. Send emails.

You can find contact details for all N.R. and Water Committee members at Just click on a Senator's name.

You can find contact details for all Judiciary Committee members at Just click on a Senator's name.

Email list:,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sample Letter Headings or Email Subject Lines

  1. NO to SB313
  2. STOP SB313
  3. SB313: Animal Performance Ban is Unjust
  4. SB313 Opposition
  5. STOP Senate Bill 313

Sample Letters/Emails
Please edit and personalize the sample letters.

Sample Letter 1

Dear California Senator,

Please accept this letter into the record as official opposition to SB313, the “Circus Cruelty Prevention Act.”

With a very misleading title, this bill presents itself as a manner to protect animals which may be abused in traveling circuses. However, it overreaches vastly and has many unintended consequences. It will affect over 300 licensed and reputable educational outreach organizations across our state.

These organizations, while not eligible for accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) due to not possessing large, public facilities, provide excellent husbandry for the animals and excel in their standards of care equal to or above those found at AZA facilities. By traveling and bringing animals to locations including schools, libraries, Scout programs, and special events, they are providing priceless opportunities and education to everyone in attendance. Personal interactions with these animals go far beyond any passion which might be ignited by merely watching videos, reading books, or seeing photos. These types of programs provide unparalleled incentive to be better stewards to all of Earth's animals.

Through these presentations, the audience is introduced to conservation projects and ideals to which they would not otherwise be exposed. Traveling outreach organizations conduct very important work. The unique experiences with animals offered by these devoted caregivers have proven to be one of the best ways to create personal investment and empathy for our natural world.

These are not animals that are abused or traumatized as the programs would not be possible with stressed animals. Ambassador animals typically live some of the most enriched and full lives of any animals under human care as they are consistently able to experience new sights, smells, sounds, and other stimuli. Outreach organizations even enforce their own time restrictions for animals so they do not spend excessive amounts of time traveling.

While on the surface this bill seems well-meaning, it is doing nothing to help animal welfare or stop animal cruelty. This bill will not only harm California businesses but even punish those who provide free educational programs, both of which bring awareness to wildlife. This bill will deny so many people the opportunity to have these unique animal encounters and will harm our planet by ending both awareness of wildlife concerns and appreciation of our natural world. This will be yet another learning tool and inspirational spark removed from the lives of our youth. Where will tomorrow's conservationists, biologists, and ecologists come from without these triggers?

Thank you for your time and consideration of my concerns. I appreciate all you do for California and hope you do what is right for our future and our animals. Please vote NO to SB313!



Sample Letter 2

Dear Senator,

I implore you to stop Senate Bill 313. As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I ask you to realize that this bill is redundant, and a waste of California tax money. California already has extensive animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws including Penal Code § 597. Punish actual criminals with the current law!

This bill is far-reaching and rife with unintended consequences, including making criminals out of those dedicated individuals who responsibly conduct educational programs with animals. Proponents for this bill have a radical agenda and should not be confused with people who are legitimately concerned for animal welfare. Hopefully, you will do what is right for California, the animals, and responsible animal educators by saying NO to SB313!

Please accept this letter into the record as official opposition to SB313, the “circus cruelty prevention act.” Have a good day.



Sample Letter 3

Dear Senator,

As a dedicated advocate for animal welfare, I implore you to stop Senate Bill 313. California already has extensive animal cruelty laws including Penal Code § 597. Enforce those current laws! SB313 is yet another superfluous law which will not accomplish its stated purpose but will punish responsible California stakeholders.

Among other overreaching measures, this bill bans many educational outreach programs before students and Scout troops. Responsible animal educators who present these animals to thousands of children annually will be made into criminals!

The fact is that this legislation is unnecessary. Punish the "bad actors" and the criminals. No new law is needed to protect animals as California can already prosecute animal abusers.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. Hopefully, you will do what is right for California, the animals, and responsible animal educators by stopping SB313! Please accept this letter into the record as official opposition to SB313, the “circus cruelty prevention act.” Have a good day.



Talking Points

  1. California already has existing animal cruelty laws, including California Penal Code § 597. Enforce the current laws!
  2. If someone is irresponsible with an animal in California, he can be punished under already existing laws.
  3. California has over 300 licensed and reputable outreach and education organizations who would be negatively impacted by the bill.
  4. This bill would make illegal the hundreds of beneficial, educational outreach programs performed each year by responsible animal keepers.
  5. The definitions used in this bill turn upstanding citizens into criminals.
  6. The very programs that set forth the paths for tomorrow's conservationists, veterinarians, and biologists will be banned!
  7. It is unreasonable to punish those conducting responsible education programs as a failed attempt to crack down upon those performing animal cruelty.
  8. Books and videos are great, but seeing the animals leads to much greater appreciation and fuels the desire to learn, and to conserve animals and their habitats.
  9. Prohibitions such as this proposed ban demonstrate an irrational approach over common sense.
  10. Collective punishment (punishment of everyone due to the actions of one or a few) is never a good government practice.
  11. This bill is yet another solution in search of a problem.
  12. This will be nothing but another superfluous and selectively enforced law which will punish responsible citizens while criminals will go unpunished.
  13. The bill will yield scores of unintended consequences.
  14. Why would someone responsibly educating a classroom or a Scout troop be expected to know about this law? Even worse, if he does not he will be a criminal!

Article written by USARK