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New York bans elephants in circuses, parades and other entertainment

ALBANY – No more elephants in circuses and parades.

Legislation that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed Thursday forbids their use in those and other entertainment events. The prohibition does not kick in for two years.

“Once again, New York State is proving to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves,’’ said state Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Westchester County Republican and the Senate’s bill’s sponsor. He credited advocacy from students with Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic.

Animal rights advocates for years have protested the use of elephants in circuses, citing what they said were cruel treatment of the animals and conditions that can dramatically shorten their lifespans compared with elephants in the wild.

Ringling Bros.’ circuses were among the key targets of advocates pushing for the elephant ban. The company closed last spring after 146 years in business with company officials saying the final nail was a sharp drop in ticket sales after it stopped putting elephants in its performances.

“Elephants have been exploited and abused in entertainment acts for too long,’’ said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Westchester County Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Assembly.

The Elephant Protection Act that Cuomo signed carries a financial penalty of up to $1,000 for violations. It bans the use of elephants in entertainment acts at circuses, trade shows, carnivals, parades or other such events.

Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, an animal rights group, said the new law brings New York "one step closer to a day when the only performers in circuses are willing human ones who can go home to their families at night."

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