NEW YORK -- Sponsored by Pace University students and backed by state politicians, a newly-signed New York bill is sending a strong message to circuses currently featuring performance elephants: not in our state.
Legislation developed by students in Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Environmental Clinic was recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, making New York the first state in the nation to implement an outright ban on the use of elephants in entertainment.
“It's time society put an end to this practice,” said Michelle Land, clinical professor of environmental law and policy at Pace. “Wild elephant populations are in dire straits globally. By recognizing its duty to end entertainment acts that perpetuate misinformation, New York State is setting an example that we believe other states will follow.”
The training of elephants to perform tricks for audiences has come under fire in recent years, most notably contributing in part to the demise of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which operated for nearly 100 years. Presently, as many as nine circuses bring elephants through New York State annually.
“Elephants have been exploited and abused in entertainment acts for too long,” said State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “Confinement, torture and unhealthy living conditions have led to early death for these intelligent, gentle animals."
To end the practice, student clinicians actively lobbied in Albany and collected 1,100 student signatures in support of the bill.
"We are so pleased that this important legislation came out of the work of the students and faculty in the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic," said Marvin Krislov, Pace's president. “Dealing with real world issues and making a community impact is what a Pace education is all about.”