A local animal welfare group known as North Central Washington for Animal Compassion (NCWAC) has asked the City of Wenatchee to permanently ban circus animals from performing within its jurisdictional boundaries.

The group presented its request at Thursday's meeting of the Wenatchee City Council where they also offered what they claim is evidence that any and all traveling circuses with animal acts are out of compliance with current city ordinances regarding animal welfare.

"The problem is that they can't comply," says NCWAC's Kris Cameron. "The very nature of a traveling animal act doesn't allow them to provide for what the City says is needed for them to properly care for these animals while they're here. Current city ordinances require that, for one, they have a license to use animals - and our research shows that the circuses that come to Wenatchee have never applied for a license and the City has never provided any oversight of the circus when it is in town. So for that reason, they simply shouldn't be allowed to come here. Because they are way out of whack with our local laws and they can't comply with them by virtue of the very nature of a traveling act that has animals."

Cameron cites several specific ways that any traveling circus with animals has been, and would be incompliant with city ordinances when performing in Wenatchee.

"Our local animal welfare laws require adequate shelter, access to proper food and water, and sufficient space to move about freely, and the circus just can't provide that. They have temporary facilities and can't ensure that these animals won't escape or that people can't get close to the animals. I mean, at the Jordan Circus, people ride the animals and you can walk up and touch them."

NCWAC also feels the City and its primary venue for circus performances, Town Toyota Center, are allowing a time bomb of liability to continue ticking if circuses with animals are able to continue performing in Wenatchee.

"The Town Toyota Center and our city are taking on enormous liability risk, because these animals - based on the way that they're treated and hauled all over the country, are under a tremendous amount of stress. It's just a matter of time before they reach the limits of their endurance and snap, and injuries and deaths have occurred with not only circus workers but also with audience members as well."

The group's request comes on the heels of a similar appeal it made last month to the Greater Wenatchee Regional Public Facilities District (PFD), which oversees the operations and finances of Town Toyota Center.

That action led the PFD to place a six-month moratorium on circus animals at the venue ahead of scheduled appearances by Las Vegas-based Jordan Circus on April 11 and 12.

Cameron says NCWAC plans to ask the City of East Wenatchee for the same prohibition soon so that traveling circuses can't simply "jump the river" and pitch their tents in a metropolitan market it shares with the City of Wenatchee.

This month, NCWAC also began a petition to gather signatures from those who support the group's cause. Cameron says approximately 400 people from the North Central Washington area have already signed the petition, and the group has a soft goal of collecting 1,000 signatures to assist with its efforts.

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