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State Senate moves to ban elephants in circuses

Ringling Bros. and Bamum & Bailey circus elephants

Ringling Bros. and Bamum & Bailey circus elephants walk from their circus train to Nassau Coliseum in March 2009. Ringling Bros. stopped using elephants in 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY — The state Senate on Tuesday voted to ban the use of elephants in circuses.

The measure passed 56-6 and now goes to the Assembly, where it is poised for a vote led by a powerful majority sponsor, Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale).

“Circus elephants spend a significant portion of their lives inside trucks, trains or trailers, enduring additional physical restrictions and social isolation,” said Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Carmel).

“These elephants live in conditions that are in stark contrast to their natural habitat, including living on an unnatural diet, restricted movement, inappropriate housing and a hostile climate,” Murphy said. “This is inhumane and has to stop.”

The bill prohibits the use of elephants in circuses and “in any type of entertainment act.” The penalty would be $1,000 for each incident. Not included under the proposed ban are accredited zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.

Maine is considering a similar measure this year.

In 2015, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stopped using elephants. On Sunday at Nassau Coliseum, the circus performed its final show after 146 years.

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