New York State Legislature Votes to Ban Elephants in Entertainment

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Bill Sponsored by Senator Murphy and Assembly member Paulin Originated With Pace Environmental Policy Clinic Students

A performing elephant is a tortured elephant.

A bill that bans the use of elephants in circuses and other forms of entertainment is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature following passage in both houses of the New York State legislature. The “elephant protection act,” originated and lobbied by students of the Pace University Environmental Policy Clinic, supported by The Humane Society of the United States, and sponsored by State Senator Terrence Murphy (R-40) and Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-88), cites the “physical and psychological harm due to the living conditions and treatment to which [elephants] are subjected.”

Students of Pace’s Environmental Policy Clinic devoted their spring semester to assuring passage of the legislation which would make New York the first state in the nation to institute such a ban. They maintain that the methods used to train elephants have a direct impact on the survival of the species.

“The elephant protection act reflects the values of my generation, who don’t want animals to suffer for the sake of human entertainment,” said Paola Idrovo, a student in Pace’s Environmental Policy Clinic. “Through the experience of writing and lobbying for the bill, we gained a first-hand understanding about the cruelty to which entertainment elephants are subjected and how that threatens the entire species.”

“A performing elephant is a tortured elephant,” said Michelle Land, Pace clinical professor of environmental law and policy. “Given the global controversy about elephants in the wild, New York State has a duty to end these practices that foster false values and misinformation about the species. We believe New York’s leadership will embolden other states to prohibit performing elephants, and put an end to this barbaric relic of a bygone era.”

Senator Terrence Murphy said, “It is a fact that elephants used for entertainment purposes suffer irreparable physical and psychological harm that shortens their lifespans. They spend a significant portion of their lives crammed inside trucks, trains or trailers, and then they are poked, prodded or shocked into performing tricks. Thankfully, we have come to our senses as a society and we no longer tolerate the abuse of performing elephants. We have taken a bold step as the first state to pass legislation outlawing elephants having to suffer for our amusement. Let us hope it starts a national and international trend.”

“Performance elephants have been exploited and abused for too long,” Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said. “We can no longer ignore the cruelty that they have endured for our amusement. Confinement, torture and unhealthy living conditions have led to early death for these intelligent, gentle animals.”

“Elephants are a treasured species, and there is growing popular support for their protection,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We applaud Senator Murphy and Assemblymember Paulin for their leadership, and respectfully urge Governor Cuomo to sign this historic bill into law.”

The Pace Environmental Policy Clinic trains undergraduate students through a program of learning and service that encourages students to apply their Pace University education to the solution of real-world problems in the professional world. This interdisciplinary course, housed within Dyson College, is an example of the “Pace Path,” where students apply classroom theory directly to a real-world experience, and is co-taught by Professors John Cronin and Land.

About Dyson College of Arts and Sciences: Pace University’s liberal arts college, Dyson College offers more than 50 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs, spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and pre-professional programs (including pre-medicine, pre-veterinary, and pre-law), as well as numerous courses that fulfill core curriculum requirements. The College offers access to numerous opportunities for internships, cooperative education and other hands-on learning experiences that complement in-class learning in preparing graduates for career and graduate/professional education choices.

About Pace University: Since 1906, Pace has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in Lower Manhattan and Westchester County, NY, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

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Cara Cea
Pace University
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