Circuses have been declining in popularity. The most well-known act, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, closed in 2017 after 146 years of performances. At least 18 circuses don't use animals at all, including Cirque du Soleil.
Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso, who authored the bill, said animals in circuses endure cruel training and near constant environment. The southwest California Legislative Council opposed the bill, saying it would prevent people from experiencing "the thrill of a circus performance featuring beautiful, well cared for animals."