PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – A statewide ban on the use of elephants in circuses and other forms of entertainment is the subject of legislation originated by students of the Pace University Environmental Policy Clinic, which was introduced in the New York State legislature by State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-40) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88). Clinic students say they will devote their spring semester to assuring passage of the Elephant Protection Act.
“A tamed elephant is a tortured elephant,” said student clinician David Paulstich, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences major, speaking on behalf of the Clinic during a news conference with Murphy and Paulin at Pace yesterday. He described a circus elephant’s life of stabbings with bull hooks, food deprivation, and long hours chained during transportation from one town to the next. “Our generation is not interested in watching tortured elephants perform unnatural tricks for the sake of human entertainment,” he said.
According to the Pace students, the cruel methods used to train elephants has a direct impact on the survival of the species.
“In recent years, elephants have become an issue of worldwide concern,” said Michelle Land, co-faculty of the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic. “Their use in entertainment promotes values contrary to a global ethic necessary to ensure their survival in the wild. The Elephant Protection Act will make New York State a national leader in the conservation of elephants.”
“Thank you for being a voice for the elephants that did not have a voice,” said Murphy, a lead sponsor of the bill. “Let’s get this passed, get the governor to sign it and we can come back to Pace University and present you with a signed bill.”
“In New York State animal cruelty is not acceptable,” said Paulin. “Our generation has to understand that it’s your generation we need to listen to on this issue.”
If enacted into law, the Elephant Protection Act would make New York the first state to ban the exhibition of elephants in entertainment venues. The announcement comes as traditional circus season arrives in the region. This weekend the Royal Hanneford Circus will bring its elephants to the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Reflecting the opinion of the Pace Clinic, Paulstich said students “don’t want our future children to think this is the value society places on elephants.”
The Pace Environmental Policy Clinic trains undergraduate students through a program of learning and service that encourages students to apply their Pace University education to the solution of real-world problems in the professional world. The Clinic is a course within the Dyson College Department of Environmental Studies and Science.