NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Northampton is now the 14th Massachusetts community to ban using wild animals in traveling performances.

City councilors voted 9-0 to approve the ban, according to a news release from MSPCA. The ban makes it illegal for anyone to sponsor, exhibit, or provide entertainment that uses live or exotic animals anywhere in Northampton. Wildlife sanctuaries are not included in this ban unless they are breeding or selling animals, or moving animals for entertainment.

“This is an exciting step forward for animal welfare in Massachusetts,” said Elizabeth Magner, MSPCA-Angell animal advocacy specialist. “Traveling wild animal acts subject intelligent, social animals like elephants and nonhuman primates to abusive treatment.”

“The animals endure cruel training behind the scenes, are subjected to prolonged periods of extreme confinement, and are deprived of the ability to express their most basic natural behaviors,” Magner added. “The ban in Northampton is especially significant, considering that the city has hosted wild animal acts in the past.”

“These acts are inhumane for the animals involved, but there are also public safety concerns,” said Magner. “Audiences are at risk of being attacked or even contracting the kind of diseases that pass between humans and animals.”

“As the dark realities of the performing exotic animal industry have come to light, more and more communities are instituting bans like these while keeping their doors open to humane circus shows, like Circus Smirkus, that are just as thrilling for audiences but do not subject animals to abuse and suffering,” she added.

Thirteen Massachusetts communities, such as Amherst, Pittsfield, and Topsfield, have also passed similar bans. According to the Northampton City Council, wild animals will be banned from being in the circus, public shows, trade shows, photographic opportunities, carnivals, city or county fairs, rides, parades, races, and performances.