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New bill to ban elephant captivity in NYC

By Courtney Fern

From 2018 to 2022, Happy–an elephant held alone in captivity in the Bronx Zoo–was the NhRP’s client in what became the first animal rights case to reach a US state high court. Like all captive elephants, Happy’s life has been marked by one loss after another, beginning with the loss of her freedom in the early 1970s.

In the months before the New York Court of Appeals issued its final decision in Happy’s case, the NhRP began working with New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif to prepare legislation that would free Happy and Patty (the other elephant suffering in captivity in the Bronx Zoo) to an elephant sanctuary in the event that the court did not order Happy’s release.

Council Member Hanif introduced this legislation today in the New York City Council.

If passed, this bill will be the first in the US to ban elephant captivity, including in zoos. The bill will also require those holding elephants captive in New York City to relocate them to a sanctuary that meets their complex needs.

We’re honored to have been able to work closely with Council Member Hanif and Voters for Animal Rights (VFAR) to develop this groundbreaking bill.

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