PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- A new state bill to ban elephants from performing as entertainment in New York has come from students at Pace University.
Senator Terrence Murphy and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin met with students at Pace's Environmental Policy Clinic Monday to discuss the status of a bill Pace students wrote that would ban elephants from performing as entertainment acts.
Pace students first went up to Albany last month and discussed the legislation with Murphy and Paulin who told them to come up with a bill. Pace students had done research on elephant abuse and found that elephants used for entertainment purposes suffer physical and psychological harm due to harsh living conditions and training techniques. Pace students got 1100 signatures on a petition in support of the bill.
Nicole Virgona, one of the students behind the bill, said times had changed and people no longer support animals being kept in captivity.
"Elephants kept in captivity live half as long, suffer from foot disease and social isolation," Virgona said. "They are forced to put themselves in unnatural positions. It's up to us to voice our opinion and make a difference."
Paulin, a longtime animal rights advocate, said bills like this had been proposed in New York before, but had never gained traction.
"Times change," Paulin said. "We're going to get something done."
The assemblywoman said a proposed fine in the bill will probably have to be tweaked, since it is too expensive. Murphy said this was a step in the right direction.
"You guys are on the right track," Murphy said. "We have to protect animals and do the right thing. You have a champion in Amy Paulin."
Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer, an elephant fan, said he was glad to see the legislation gain traction.
"The idea that elephants are treated like this are absurd and ridiculous," Scherer said. "No right minded person would think that's right."
The bill is currently in committee, though Murphy and Paulin said it has bipartisan support and they expect it to move through both houses before session ends.
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