A Brooklyn pol wants to force the Bronx Zoo to give up the Big Apple’s last remaining elephants.
A bill introduced this past week by Democratic Councilwoman Shahana Hanif in essence would ban elephant captivity citywide by requiring the animals to have habitats of at least 15 acres — which don’t exist in the city. It would also prohibit elephants from being bred, rode on, being used for “educational or commercial exhibitions” or made to do labor.
The Bronx Zoo features two elephants, Happy and Patty, who live separately along an acre each.
Hanif tweeted she’s “proud to introduce” a bill “to finally ban elephant capacity in New York City because “studies have shown elephants are emotionally complex and suffer deeply in inadequate encloses.”
Courtney Fern, of the Florida-based Nonhuman Rights Project, told The City news outlet that if passed, the new bill would be the first elephant captivity ban in the U.S “and I think it’s an important step to helping end elephant suffering.”
However, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs Bronx Zoo, said the legislation is “full of general, boilerplate language regarding elephants, references issues that are not relevant and does not consider our two elephants as individuals with distinct personalities,” according to 1010 WINS-AM.
It also accused Nonhuman Rights Project, which recently mounted a failed legal challenge against Happy’s confinement, of working with Hanif to “advance an anti-zoo agenda.”
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson also ripped the bill, saying in a statement it “unfairly targets our Wildlife Conservation Society and staff who have a long history and deep commitment to protecting the animals in its care.”
The state Court of Appeals last year ruled against Nonhuman Rights Project by finding Happy the elephant is not a “person” as it tossed a lawsuit seeking to free the animal from the Bronx Zoo.