Lesniak Bill Would Help Prevent Cruel Treatment of Circus Elephants

Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, the prime sponsor of legislation to allow casinos to operate Internet wagering sites, testifies before the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee on his bill.

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak that would help prevent the abusive treatment of circus animals – specifically, the cruel and inhumane treatment of an African elephant at fairs and circuses in New Jersey – was approved by a Senate committee today.

This bill, S-2508, known as “Nosey’s Law,” would prohibit the use of elephants in traveling animal acts, which are defined  as any performance that requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of the performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility. Nosey is an elephant who is virtually crippled by arthritis, and who is forced to travel the country to give rides at fairs, flea markets, and other events. The arthritis has likely caused Nosey unnecessary suffering and permanent disability, and reports indicate that Nosey has been denied necessary veterinary care.

“This elephant is forced to give rides to the public while exhibiting symptoms of arthritis and degenerative joint disease,” said Senator Lesniak. “Using an injured elephant to give rides to the public is not only inhumane, it is extremely dangerous. If the animal should stumble or collapse due to her fragile condition, children sitting on her back could be crushed.”

The Liebel Family Circus, Nosey’s owners, have been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nearly 200 violations of the Animal Cruelty Act, including chaining Nosy so tightly she couldn’t move and denying her needed veterinary care. It has also been alleged that Nosey has been tortured with electric shock, bull hooks, sledgehammers, shovels and starvation.

To evade accountability, the Liebel Circus has taken to operating as “Circus Hollywood” and has even changed Nosey’s name to “Tiny.”

“Our state’s exotic animal regulations are intended to prevent exactly this kind of abuse and the federal Animal Welfare Act was amended to include animals used in exhibition to prevent this sort of mistreatment,” said Senator Lesniak. “The pain and suffering inflicted on this or any animal should be ended. Nosey deserves to spend her remaining years in peace and in the company of other elephants.”

Any person who violates this bill would be subject to the penalties provided in the “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act” (the Act). This would include civil administrative penalties, civil penalties, and injunctive relief, but not the criminal penalties set forth in the Act.

The legislation gained the approval of the Senate Economic Growth Committee with a 3-2 vote.

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