New Jersey lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would make the state the first in the nation to ban the use of elephants in traveling circuses. The Senate Economic Growth Committee voted 3 to 2 to recommend passage of bill S2508, also known as Nosey’s Law. The bill is named after a 34-year-old elephant owned by the Liebel Family Circus. The animal is the focus of the advocacy group Save Nosey Now, which has accused the elephant’s owners of animal cruelty and abuse.
“The bill is simple: a ban on elephants,” its sponsor, State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D., Union), told Philly.com. “We want to remove animals from the suffering that they undergo while in captivity.”
Advocates estimate that there are about 100 elephants in traveling circuses nationwide, many of which are mistreated, fed poorly, and receive inadequate veterinary care. The New Jersey League of Humanitarian Voters has asked the state to ban all exotic animals, but so far the proposed law only targets elephants.
New Jersey’s move comes at a time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering new rules that would restrict the public’s access to petting zoos and attractions in which humans interact with exotic animals. A public comment period on the new federal regulations—which could set new rules on barriers and training as well as on whether there should be any contact at all between humans and certain animals—ended Aug. 31 after receiving more than 20,000 comments.
While no other states have banned the use of elephants, two states—California and Rhode Island—have banned the use of bullhooks or elephant goads, which are sharp hooks attached to the ends of 2- to 3-foot handles that are used to force elephants to move.
Advocates say that despite suffering from arthritis, Nosey is forced to travel the country and give rides to children and adults. The Liebel Family Circus has been cited for nearly 200 violations of the federal Animal Cruelty Act, including chaining Nosey so tightly she couldn’t move and denying her urgent veterinary care.
“This elephant is forced to give rides to the public while exhibiting symptoms of arthritis and degenerative joint disease,” said Lesniak. “Using an injured elephant to give rides to the public is not only inhumane, it is extremely dangerous. If the animal should stumble or collapse due to her fragile condition, children sitting on her back could be crushed.”
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus sent a letter to the committee opposing the bill, saying elephants are already protected by federal regulations. The federal Animal Welfare Act establishes minimum standards of care and treatment for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. Ringling Bros. has also stated that it no longer uses elephants in its acts, citing economic reasons.
Violation of the Animal Welfare Act can lead to fines of $10,000 per violation, per animal, per day. If you or a loved one has been cited for animal cruelty or for any other criminal offense in New Jersey, contact an attorney for help. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.