New York finally bans elephant use for entertainment, two years after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Act

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation in October 2017 after a report from Pace University highlighted the animals' extreme hardships in captivity and it finally came into effect last Saturday.

                            New York finally bans elephant use for entertainment, two years after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Act
(Getty Images)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Elephant Protection Act in October 2017 and it took two years for it to come into effect on Saturday, October 19. The bill (S2098B/A464B) bans the use of the animal for entertainment purposes, be it in circuses, carnivals, parades and trade shows.

At the time of signing the bill, Cuomo said the use of elephants in such settings is ominous for their health and also potentially abusive. He added the Elephant Protection Act facilitates the state administration’s efforts to fight animal cruelty and “create a stronger, more humane New York”.

After the law comes into effect, anybody using elephants for entertainment purposes could face a fine up to $1,000.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference to discuss Amazon's decision to bring a new corporate location to New York City, November 13, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


In April 2016, New York’s Pace University published a report that said elephants used in circuses had half the lifespan of those in the wild because of the extreme hardships they face. Factors like beating, confinement and psychological stress reduce the life expectancy of these animals.

The New York administration then took up the matter as top priority following continued criticism from animal rights groups and the bill was signed the next year. The law, however, does not apply to institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium and wildlife sanctuaries, said a Times Union report.

Republicans, Democrats united over elephants' welfare

At the time of signing the bill, former New York senator Terence Murphy, who had introduced the bill in his chamber, thanked Pace University for its report, saying: "Thanks to the advocacy of the students, staff and faculty of the Pace University Environmental Clinic, New York State has now passed significant legislation that will protect elephants from cruel and inhumane treatment. Once again, New York State is proving to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves." The Republican leader’s support for the cause showed the issue of animal’s welfare transcended political partisanship.

New York’s long-serving Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said then that with the legislation New York became the leader in ending the practice. “Elephants will no longer be subjected to cruel treatment for our amusement,” she said. 

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