There’ll be no more elephants under the big top in New York state, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill into law that prohibits the pachyderms in entertainment events like circuses and parades.
“Elephants will no longer be subjected to this cruel abuse,” Cuomo tweeted Thursday.
His sentiment echoed the argument of animal rights activists, who have long said that the highly intelligent, social animals shouldn’t be confined and made to perform.
State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) told the Daily News that the measure, known as the Elephant Protection Act, was drafted after reports of elephants being abused by trainers. Paulin was one of the sponsors.
The law takes effect in 2019.
The governor’s signature comes about four months after the New York City Council voted to ban circuses from using any wild animals in their acts.
It’s been more than a year since the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus officially retired its elephants after pressure from animal rights groups and members of the public concerned for the animals’ well-being.
However, as the Poughkeepsie Journal reports, smaller circuses in New York and the U.S. continue to include performing elephants. Those companies typically deny they mistreat their animals.
“They’re not beaten or prodded; it’s voice command and hand command,” Jim Davis, executive director of Stellar Entertainment Group, told the Journal. The group produces the Garden Bros. Circus, which is touring in New York, but left its elephants in Pennsylvania because of the coming ban.