2 States Become First to Ban Wild Animals in Traveling Acts

Over the course of 1 week, New Jersey and Hawaii became the first states to ban the use of wild animals in circuses and other traveling acts. 
Amanda Carrozza
Published: December 28, 2018
Elephant circusAnimal welfare advocates have had a victorious month. For the first time, 2 states instituted bans on traveling wild-animal exhibitions.

On December 14, New Jersey officially became the first state to ban the use of use of wild and exotic animals in traveling acts. The passing of the law came nearly a year after similar legislation was left unsigned by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Known as “Nosey’s Law” the ban is named after a 36-year-old African elephant with arthritis that had been traveling the country with a circus. In November 2017, Nosey was found chained and swaying back and forth in her own waste, suffering from urinary tract and skin infections, intestinal parasites, painful osteoarthritis, dehydration, and malnutrition. Her owners, Hugo and Franciszka Liebel, were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals in relation to Nosey the elephant. Since her rescue, Nosey has been living at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she is receiving care and protection.

After signing the legislation, Gov. Phil Murphy said he was proud New Jersey will no longer allow animals to be exploited and cruelly treated within the state. “These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of other is at risk,” he said.

One week later, on December 21, Gov. David Ige of Hawaii approved the new regulation that prohibits the importation of lions, tigers, bears, elephants, alligators, and other wild animals used by circuses and people who exploit them for photo ops and rides. Hawaii’s bill was finalized almost 4 years after Ige pledged that the state would stop issuing permits to people seeking to import wild animals in order to put them on display or force them to perform.

“These reforms in Hawaii and New Jersey have been a long time coming,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Wild animals used in traveling shows are subjected to prolonged periods of extreme confinement in unventilated trucks and trailers as they are hauled from venue to venue for months at a time.”

While the bills in New Jersey and Hawaii bar the use all wild or exotic animals in traveling animal acts—including carnivals, circuses, petting zoos, and related events—similar legislation has been instituted in New York and Illinois that specifically bans the use of elephants in traveling or entertainment acts. Around the world, many countries also have instituted bans to end wild animal acts in entertainment, including Bolivia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, the Netherlands, and India. In addition, the United Kingdom has pledged to ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses by 2020.


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