PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- A bill that bans the use of elephants in circuses and other forms of entertainment is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office for his signature, following passage in both houses of the New York State legislature.
The Elephant Protection Act originated and was lobbied for by students of the Pace University Environmental Policy Clinic in conjunction with State Senator Terrence Murphy (R-40) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88). The bill 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.”
During their research of circus living conditions, students uncovered that many elephants in captivity spend a large portion of their lives on the road, crammed inside trucks, trains and trailers. Once freed, they are poked, prodded and shocked into performing tricks for entertainment.
Students and faculty hope that the bill will protect elephants in captivity and allow those in the wild to flourish as a species. “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," said Michelle Land, Pace clinical professor of environmental law and policy.
The Pace Environmental Policy Clinic trains undergraduate students through a program of learning and service which encourages students to apply their Pace University education to the solutions of real-world problems in the professional world. For more information, click here.