Albany, NEW YORK (December 13, 2019) -- Today New York became the first state to prohibit the sale of giraffe products. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law legislation that “designates giraffe and other certain species as vulnerable species and prohibits the sale of articles made from any part of a vulnerable species."     

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright, D-Setauket, introduced the bill, A.6606, in the Assembly and state Sen. Monica Martinez, D-Suffolk, introduced a companion bill, S.5098, in the Senate.

Brian Shapiro, New York senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:

“This is an historic day for animal protection, and we applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this groundbreaking legislation to prohibit the sale of giraffe parts and products. New York will now lead the way for other states to follow in protecting this iconic species. This bill was introduced last year after our undercover investigation revealed the abundant trade in giraffe products thriving in the Empire State.”

Governor Cuomo previously signed landmark legislation prohibiting the sale and purchase of elephant ivory and rhino horn in 2014 and sale of shark fins in 2013.

An undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International in 2018 found giraffe parts and products sold online and in stores by at least 51 dealers across the United States, including in New York. Giraffe bones used in knife handles and giraffe skins custom-made into jackets, boots, pillows and even Bible covers, among other items were being sold by New York-based businesses.

Photos and video from the giraffe parts investigation.

Facts:

  • Wild giraffe populations have plunged nearly 40% in the past 30 years, now standing at just over 68,000 mature individuals, and the species is still in decline  
  • A.6600/S.5098 requires the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to designate certain species as vulnerable species and prohibits the sale of articles made from any part of a vulnerable species. The legislation also requires the department to designate the giraffe as a vulnerable species.
  • The U.S. is a significant importer of giraffe specimens. From 2006 to 2015, the U.S. imported approximately 40,000 giraffe parts and products, mostly for commercial purposes. Among these imports were about 21,000 giraffe bone carvings, nearly 4,000 raw bones, about 3,000 skin pieces, almost 2,000 raw bone pieces and more than 700 skins.
  • There is no federal law protecting giraffes. In 2017 the HSUS, HSI and other conservation groups petitioned the Department of the Interior to list the giraffe as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Earlier this year, HSI successfully led the effort to support a proposal by five African countries to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the first international protections for giraffes against unsustainable trade. The increased protections went into effect just days ago.
  • On April 25, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that giraffes may qualify for protection under the ESA following the petition and a lawsuit filed also by HSUS, HSI and other conservation groups. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 12 months to decide whether the ESA listing is warranted.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States posted her blog on this breaking news.

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