(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Raj Mukherji and Andrew Zwicker prohibiting the use of elephants and other exotic animals in traveling animal acts, such as fairs, carnivals, circuses and flea markets cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.
“The mistreatment of any animal is inhumane and wrong,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). “But it is particularly disturbing when wild, endangered animals are captured, misused, and exploited for profitable entertainment."
The bill (A-1923) will be designated as “Nosey’s Law,” in honor of Nosey the elephant, who is forced to travel the country and give rides at events despite being virtually crippled by arthritis. The arthritis has likely caused unnecessary suffering and permanent disability for Nosey, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to take action to protect Nosey, and Nosey’s owners continue to use her in shows.
“These are wild, endangered animals, and they should be cared for according to the highest ethical standards to ensure the survival of their species,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “We cannot allow ill-equipped handlers of traveling animal acts to mistreat and exploit endangered species.”
Among the animals banned from traveling acts include elephants, crocodiles, marsupials, non-human primates, big cats and others.
Any individual who violates the actions detailed in the bill would be subject to the penalties provided in section 10 of “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act,” which would include administrative penalties, civil penalties and injunctive relief, but not the criminal penalties described in the law.
This legislation will not apply to a non-mobile, permanent institution or facility licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and permitted by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection, institutions of higher education exhibiting wild or exotic animals for educational purposes or outreach programs conducted by government entities.
A previous version of the bill was pocket vetoed on January 16, 2018.