N.J. poised to ban elephants and other ‘exotic’ animal acts

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A circus elephant performs during a show.

New Jersey legislators have passed a bill that would ban exotic animals from circuses and fairs. If the bill becomes law, New Jersey would become the first state with such a ban.

The legislation was named Nosey’s Law after a 35-year-old elephant that was seized from the Great American Family Circus over allegations of neglect and mistreatment. Nosey is currently living at a Tennessee elephant sanctuary that focuses on providing a stable, community environment for elephants that have lived in captivity.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who has sponsored animal welfare and protection laws in the past, and state Sen. Nilsa Cruz Perez pushed the bill after learning of Nosey’s plight, NJ.com reports.

“The conditions for Nosey and other elephants in similar circumstances is cruel and inhumane,” Lesniak told NJ.com. “These animals are not here to be used as entertainment for humans. And using an injured elephant like Nosey to give rides to children and others can actually be dangerous. If the animal should stumble or collapse due to her fragile condition, any rider could be injured.”

The bill doesn’t define what constitutes an exotic animal, but Lesniak recommended that state regulators turn to the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act for guidelines. That law defines an exotic animal as “any species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mollusk, or crustacean that is not indigenous to New Jersey as determined by the Fish and Game Council.”

The bill sailed through the state senate unopposed and received only two nay votes in the legislature’s lower house. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Chris Christie before it becomes law.

Related on MNN: 6 ways you can help elephants

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