Update: 1/16/2018 This billed failed to pass due to a pocket veto by Governor Chris Christie. Thank you Governor!
I wrote Governor Chris Christie on the Nosey Bill, asking him to veto it. Why does New Jersey, which has seven zoos and aquaria of their own, want to make it illegal to move animals through New Jersey? Is it because it benefits the people of New Jersey, and their animals, or is it because some legislators are pushing the agenda of animal rights extremists?
These deep pocketed extremists do not want to save animals. They are happy to see them dead. Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS says: “If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another dog or cat born.” He also says: “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” And finally, regarding the agenda of HSUS to push their ideology on the rest of us, through legislation: “People know what happened in California, and they know it can happen again and again. They know that no group has passed more ballot measures than we have. They know we have a focused strategy. They know we have a budget of $150 million a year. And they know we’re ready for a fight.”
My professional exotic animal management colleagues and I want to see animals live and thrive, and we believe that to do this, people need to be as directly connected with animals as possible. People need to see them, hear them, and even feel them. They need to develop a sense of personal connection so that they love these animals, and want to consider and promote their wellbeing, both in managed care, and in the wild.
For these reasons, I am against the New Jersey “Nosey Bill” This bill, copied below, states that it is illegal to have performing elephants travel through New Jersey. It does not say it is illegal for them to PERFORM in New Jersey. It is illegal for them to BE in New Jersey. This follows on another recent bill to restrict dogs being transported through New Jersey, and yet another which is being considered which would require all professionals transporting animals for any professional purpose to have CDL licenses and keep CDL logs. Shuttles for humans are not required to have a CDL licensed driver unless there are over 16 occupants. Extremists are trying to force our society to impose more demands on drivers of animals than there are for drivers of people!
What this means, as alluded to by its title, is that New Jersey intends to stop and possibly confiscate exotic animals found travelling it’s highways, regardless of whether they are scheduled to perform there, as precedented in Alabama, in the Nosey case. Of course, travel through New Jersey is required by anyone travelling I95 to New York City, and all points north. This is not a move to ‘protect elephants in New Jersey’. It is a move to block exotic animals from travel through New Jersey. Why does New Jersey want that? I suspect they don’t but that someone is getting paid to push this legislation through to further the agenda of HSUS, who has endorsed the bill, at the expense of all the zoos and all the exotic animal professionals in New Jersey and the entire country.
To keep things in perspective, when HSUS hurts zoos, they are hurting all of us. Zoos are the most popular destinations for families, bar none. They are much more visited than all the professional sports venues COMBINED, with over 7 million visitors each year, worldwide. HSUS wants to deprive your family of the chance to attend and support zoos, and the conservation programs they support. What will happen to the animals that are confiscated? Owners are dragged into extremely expensive legal battles to regain their legally owned animals, and they must pay huge ‘support’ fees in order to keep their animals alive and intact for the duration of this battle. If they are found to be innocent, there are no provisions to refund the fees for the animals that were unrightfully confiscated.
So, I wanted to write to Governor Christie to ensure he was aware of the problems with this bill. Here is my letter to him:
Governor Christie, AB4386, the Nosey Law
As an exotic animal management professional, who has taken animals from the National Zoo, through New Jersey, to places north – on duty for the Smithsonian, I ask you to reconsider this damaging legislation that puts an extremist agenda over the interests of your people, and your zoos.
Please veto the Nosey Law, Assembly Bill 4386, which serves the animal rights extremist agenda of disrupting all inclusion of animals in human life, and damages all people who legitimately work with exotic animals, and in many cases, the animals themselves.
It appears that, New Jersey’s law proposes to regulate all traffic travelling through New Jersey, and travel on the US Interstates should not be subject to any state legislation in conflict with federal law. Since exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the USDA and APHIS, New Jersey is setting it’s local enforcement above the expert national regulators, making a treacherous situation for licensed, law abiding, expert, animal professionals needing to travel through New Jersey with animals.
Please veto this ill-conceived legislation, which harms all of the New Jersey (accredited) zoos, and many others as well.
I then tried to send this letter, by email, to Governor Christie. However, I could not just send him an email. I had to route through a series of filters that seemed to ensure that my email would land in the “office of transportation, car related issues”. I also called my letter in, but there is not enough time to send a letter by mail.
This is really a shame because I believe that if Governor Christie sees this bill and considers it’s implications, he will take definitive action to strike it down. Governor Christie has been a wonderful supporter of zoos, especially the Turtle Back Zoo. Power on, Governor Christie. Thank you for your service and please help us by vetoing this bill before you end your considerable service to the state of New Jersey.
The text of Assembly Bill 4386
Assemblyman RAJ MUKHERJI
District 33 (Hudson)
“Nosey’s Law”; prohibits use of elephants in traveling animal acts.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning the use of elephants in traveling animal acts, designated as Nosey’s Law, and supplementing Title 23 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
- a. Notwithstanding any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no person shall use an elephant in a traveling animal act. (Even when legal by federal law, they are saying this takes precedence)
- Any person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in section 10 of P.L.1973, c.309 (C.23:2A-10), except that the criminal penalties provided in subsection f. of that section shall not apply. (fines of $5,000-$50,000 per day, and investigation expenses of up to $25,000/day, and potential confiscation of animals with NO provisions for their safekeeping or return to owners)
- As used in this section:
“Mobile or traveling housing facility” means a vehicle, including a truck, trailer, or railway car, used to transport or house an animal used for performance. (does not say plane)
“Performance” means any animal act, carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, presentation, public showing, race, ride, trade show, or similar undertaking in which animals perform tricks, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement, or benefit of a live audience. ( lead with more controversial uses but includes most benign uses)
“Traveling animal act” means any performance which requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of the performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility. (any zoo animal being moved- an animal travelling to be exhibited for the benefit of a live audience)
- This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill, to be known as “Nosey’s Law,” would prohibit the use of elephants in traveling animal acts. A traveling animal act is defined in the bill as any performance which requires an animal to be transported to or from the location of the performance in a mobile or traveling housing facility. A mobile or traveling housing facility is defined in the bill as a vehicle, including a truck, trailer, or railway car, used to transport or house an animal used for performance. Any person who violates this bill would be subject to the penalties provided in section 10 of “The Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act,” P.L.1973, c.309 (C.23:2A-10). This would include civil administrative penalties, civil penalties, and injunctive relief, but not the criminal penalties in subsection f. of that section.
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. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to take action to protect Nosey, and Nosey’s owners continue to use her in shows. This bill would prohibit such shows in New Jersey. “
That is what they say. I say: “Nosey is an elephant who shows symptoms of arthritis, is under veterinarian care, and is encouraged, but not forced, to exercise regularly, including by allowing rides upon her back, which is a small effort for an elephant. Arthritis is a disease associated with aging in ALL animals, and is in no way indicative of anything but longevity. “Reports” are not proof, and care for situations like arthritis are often limited and non-medical, with humans as well as with animals. In fact, the leading treatment suggested for the benefit of arthritic symptoms is exercise (here is but one citation: http://www.vetsmall.theclinics.com/article/S0195-5616(97)50086-6/abstract). The USDA cannot protect Nosey from aging, no matter how much they might regulate and enforce, nor can her owners. Before we harass Nosey’s owners, we must first provide this level of care and assurance for ALL aging humans. It is ridiculous to expect US citizens to enforce a higher standard of living and care for animals than it does for it’s own citizens.”