Charlotte City Council tables circus animal debate again

After a lot of back and forth from city leaders, a decision to better protect circus animals in Charlotte will take place another day. After roughly two hours, council members voted to table the issue.

The proposed change in this ordinance focused on bullhooks, electric pods, and whips used to trail exotic animals; devices that hurt them.

“Elephants and animals are beaten to perform. There’s no getting around those facts,” said one speaker who claimed to work with circus animals at one point.

Ben Johnson with Universoul Circus said, “All we’re asking is a chance to have a dialogue, to come up with language that would be fair to all the parties.”

Throughout discussion Monday night, council members went back and forth on the language in the ordinance. They want to protect the animals but do it in a way that doesn’t push the circus out of Charlotte.

“When we had this discussion two weeks ago, we specified these instruments, and I don’t know how we got so far away from it. I don’t like ‘other devices’ because that just leaves it wide open,” said Mayor Pro Tem, Julie Eiselt.

“Frankly, I’m not sure what would change by kicking the can another two or three weeks and I think there are other things we need to be working on and I’d rather put this to bed tonight,” said Councilmember Larken Egleston.

Council voted 5-5 to defer the topic to another meeting; Mayor Vi Lyles had to break the tie, voting to table the issue.