SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – State Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, is highlighting a new law that will take effect on Jan. 1, prohibiting the participation of elephants protected under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 in traveling exhibitions. Some traveling shows breed animals or steal them from the wild to force them to perform, sometimes out of fear, for the owner’s own financial profit.
“Thankfully, the past few years have seen a stark change in attitudes regarding the humane treatment of animals, in their housing, diet, and care, especially when most of their time is spent in traveling or training,” said Mussman. “We should hold Illinois to a high standard and take the lead on issues of animal abuse.”
Under the Mussman-backed Senate Bill 1342, Illinois recently enacted the first statewide ban on the use of elephants in traveling acts. New York soon followed suit, becoming the second state to prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts. Beyond the sometimes abusive training methods may be utilized to influence wild animals to perform, keeping large intelligent animals such as elephants in inappropriate captivity, even if they are not forced to do tricks, can also cause them inherent physical and psychological harm.
“I want families in Illinois to learn about and protect exotic and endangered animals, but not via unrealistic performances and conditions that are not humane for those animals,” said Mussman. “It’s vital for the next generation to learn the skills of compassion and empathy for all living things.”