ALBANY, N.Y. — Elephant performances at circuses, parades and carnivals will soon be illegal in New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Thursday intended to protect the animals from abuse and mistreatment.
The new law, which fully takes effect in two years, bans the use of elephants as entertainment. Violators will be subject to a $1,000 fine per incident. Zoos will not be impacted by the new rules.
“Elephants have been exploited and abused in entertainment acts for too long,” said Democratic state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Westchester County, who sponsored the bill in her chamber. “Confinement, torture and unhealthy living conditions have led to early death for these intelligent, gentle animals.”
New York City has already banned the use of elephants as entertainment and the number of such performances is down nationally amid concerns about animal welfare. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired its elephant show in 2016 before ending operations entirely this year.
Animal rights groups had pushed for the ban, which had little public opposition. The state already bans the sale or trade of ivory.
“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.
Cuomo’s office noted that elephants used for entertainment often live only half as long as their wild counterparts.
“The use of elephants in these types of settings is dangerous to their health and potentially abusive,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing his he had signed the bill into law.