The Humane Society of the United States expressed disappointment in the decision by outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to pocket veto “Nosey’s Law” (A4386/S2508), which would have protected elephants and other wild or exotic animals from being abused in traveling animal acts.
Nosey’s Law passed the legislature by votes of 66-2-2 in the General Assembly and by 31-0 in the State Senate. It is named after an elephant who for years has been used to give rides at circuses and fairs despite suffering painful arthritis and degenerative joint disease and has generated protests and petitions across the country. Nosey’s plight prompted Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) and Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) to introduce this landmark legislation, which Gov. Chris Christie failed to act on. Assemblymen Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset) and Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Camden), Diane Allen (R-Burlington), and Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) also cosponsored the bill.
There was an amendment introduced late in the process that diminished the chances of Governor Christie signing the measure.
Brian Hackett, New Jersey state director for the HSUS, released the following statement:
“Despite the Legislature overwhelmingly approving of the legislation to ban wild animal acts, in the final days of the administration Governor Christie did not act on Nosey's Law. We will work to introduce a revised bill work to secure its rapid approval and put it in front of Governor Phil Murphy for his approval. We thank the Legislature for its strong commitment to closing the curtain on circus animal cruelty in New Jersey and are confident that this will come to an end shortly.”
Governor Christie did affix his signature to another bill, S3558, which overhauls how animal cruelty law is enforced in the state. The bill shifts enforcement of the state’s animal-cruelty laws to county prosecutors, who must appoint a chief humane law enforcement officer in each county, assisted by humane law enforcement officers hired by each municipality within each county. The whole structure will be under the supervision the state attorney general. “This is much needed reform of a system which was too outdated to appropriately ensure animals were protected and laws properly enforced,” said Hackett.
Five states and more than 135 other localities in 37 states have enacted restrictions regarding the use of wild animals in circuses. In 2017, New York state and Illinois passed bills prohibiting the use of elephants in traveling shows and numerous localities, including Los Angeles and New York City, banned wild animals in traveling animal acts.
In November, a Lawrence County, Alabama, animal control officer confiscated Nosey and charged her owner with cruel neglect after finding Nosey exhibiting signs of stress and without adequate food and water. Nosey is currently at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Following a hearing in December, a judge’s decision on final custody for Nosey is expected shortly.