Swedish council outlaws elephants in town centre

You would not normally associate elephants with Sweden. But one town in the Nordic country has decided that it's better to be safe than sorry – so it has created a new bylaw forbidding elephants from parading its streets.

Swedish council outlaws elephants in town centre
Elephants may no longer roam Kalmar's streets. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/SCANPIX

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It's not as radical a decision as it sounds. Kalmar council's service committee voted on Wednesday to create stricter rules for visiting circuses, and the new bylaw applies to all circus animals, not just elephants.

Last year, according to regional newspaper Östran, a circus stallion escaped on a visit to Kalmar on southern Sweden's east coast and decided to try his charms on not just one, but two local mares.

But it's not just this incident that has led to the new rules, said Ingemar Einarsson, chairman of the local council's service committee.

“There have been some cultural clashes between the circus world and the municipal world. We're now putting the rules in writing so that everyone will know what's what,” Einarsson told Östran late on Wednesday.

Apart from making it illegal to keep circus animals on Kalmar's streets, the new bylaw includes rules on where to set up the circus tents and how to manage electricity, water and waste water.

“We want to meet all circuses in a positive way and help according to our best ability,” added Einarsson.

Going to see travelling circuses is a popular pastime for young children in Sweden, as everywhere, and the circuses often organize animal parades down the town's high street.

However, the tradition of keeping exotic circus animals has been widely criticized by animal rights organizations. According to Djurens Rätt ('rights of the animals'), ten circuses in Sweden kept animals in 2014.

But if the idea of outlawing elephants in the town streets makes you laugh, bear in mind that Sweden has in fact had quite a few animal-related circus incidents in the past.

In September a year and a half ago, a driver in southern Sweden had to reassure police he wasn't drunk after his journey home from work in the early hours of the morning was interrupted by a herd of escaped circus camels. It was the second incident of its kind in the area in just five months.

And in May 2013, a family in Värnamo, also in southern Sweden, awoke one Sunday morning to find an Indian elephant wandering about in their garden after having run off from a circus which had set up camp in the vicinity.

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