Mérida, Yucatán — The city this week became the first in the southeast to ban circuses with animals, as well as staged fights with roosters or dogs.
The new regulation also bans the infamous torneos de lazo, although those gruesome rodeo-style events can take place outside city limits.
With these changes, Mérida became the 12th in Mexico to ban animal circuses, with increased penalties for non-compliance.
The issue caught fire last summer when a bear performing for Harley Circus was found with a mutilated jaw.
Harley lost its license and was fined 700,488 pesos (US$53,100) for injuries to the bear named “Invictus,” who underwent surgery to get a new titanium jaw.
Invictus had his teeth pulled out so that he would not be dangerous as the star attraction. He had been dressed in a pink ballerina costume and forced to ride a bike just like the bear in “Madagascar 3.”
At the time, Mexican authorities seized six wild animals from Harley Circus after receiving an anonymous tip.
Inspectors from the Federal Bureau for Environmental Protection (Profepa) performed a surprise operation on the traveling circus that had recently settled in Dzidzantún. They had also seized a Bengal tiger, an African lion and three spider monkeys that showed clear signs of abuse and severe injuries.
The tiger had deformed extremities and the lion had torn claws and fangs. The monkeys were all missing teeth, which according to the zoo manager had been removed to “avoid accidents,” according to media reports.
The animals were transported to the Unit for the Promotion of Conservation and Sustainable use of Wildlife in Mérida.