New Jersey could become the first state to ban elephants and other exotic animals in traveling acts. Senate bill S2508 was introduced on September 12, 2016 by cosponsors Raymond Lesniak (D) and Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D). The bill, called “Nosey’s Law”, would ban exotic animals from use in traveling acts, and provide civil penalties for those who violate the law. New Jersey is taking steps to ban elephants in traveling acts!
Nosey is a 46 year old African elephant that continues to be forced to travel the country to fairs and other events to perform and give rides to those that attend those events. She is forced to work even though she has crippling arthritis and degenerative joint disease and, according to reports, has been denied veterinary care. Despite Nosey’s suffering, her owners continue to make her work.
Nosey’s Facebook Page states that she was captured when she was about two years old and has lived in solitary confinement for over 24 years at the hands of a cruel owner. She has been beaten with sledge hammers and other objects while staked by chains on all four legs.
Tom Liebling is Nosey’s owner. He does business, according to an administrative complaint filed by the USDA in 2011, as Florida State Family Entertainment, LLC, Florida State Family Circus, Liebling Brothers Circus, and Liebling Brothers Family Circus. Among the allegations noted on the Facebook page, Nosey was housed in areas where she could be injured; Nosey had a skin condition that Liebling refused to provide veterinary treatment records and had not provided treatment for; and tethered Nosey in chains so that she could only move a few feet from side to side. She could not lie down or move forward or backwards.
The incidents of this abuse are not only documented on Nosey’s Facebook page, they are documented on the United States Department of Agriculture. For example, an Administrative complaint on the USDA’s website lists numerous occasions between 2007 and 2011 when Nosey was abused and/or neglected.
That is not the first complaint nor is it likely to be the last. According to the New Jersey Law Journal, Liebling has been cited over 200 times for Animal Cruelty Act violations. Liebling is generally forced to pay a fine and then he then goes on his way. For example, in 2013, he was fined $7,500 and ordered to “cease and desist” the abuse and/or neglect. Basically, he is free to continue what he is doing until the USDA cites him again, he pays another minimal fine (compared to what he makes from animal abuse and neglect), and goes on his merry way. All this time, Nosey and others like her continue to suffer!
New Jersey 2016 Bill
Senate bill S2508 was passed in the Senate by a narrow margin of one vote. Three senators, the bill’s sponsors, and one other, Jim Whelan, voted yes. Two senators, Steven Oroho Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr., voted no. No reason was given why the two dissenting senators refused to support the bill.
Voters should take note of their Senators that refuse to support legislators that do not support legislation that is designed to protect those that cannot protect themselves. They can be replaced with legislators that do care!
As a part of S2508, the bill stated that the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, “has failed to enact rules that would stop the suffering of Nosey and numerous exotic animals in petting zoos and other attractions.” The bill seeks to prevent abuse and neglect of those animals from occurring in its state.
Since the United States government agency responsible for the welfare of animals refuses to take action, the state of New Jersey has taken it upon itself to stop the abuse, at least in its own state. That is the bounds of its authority. This legislation could be groundbreaking and a model for other states to follow.
The abuse of exotic animals in zoos and other attractions including circuses has been widely published over the years. Yet people still pay money to attend those events or attractions so they can see the animals “perform”. The time for stepping up and preventing this abuse is long overdue.
Kudos to New Jersey! My hope is that this legislation passes and that it leads the way to a day when animals are no longer abused, neglected and put on display for the pleasure of the crowds. Animals have feelings; they feel pain, they know loneliness, they grieve AND they love! Animals are not “things” to be mistreated and then thrown away when they no long make money for his or her owner. They are living, breathing, feeling creatures and, as human beings, it is our task to protect the animals in our care!