A politician in Brooklyn is trying to get the Bronx Zoo to give over the city’s last elephants.
Democratic Councilwoman Shahana Hanif submitted a bill this past week that would effectively ban elephant captivity in the entire city by mandating that elephants be provided with habitats of at least 15 acres.
Elephants would no longer be able to be utilized for “educational or commercial exhibits,” ridden, or forced into labor.
In addition, it would make it illegal to breed elephants, ride them, put them on display in “educational or commercial shows,” or force them to perform manual labor, even though none of these things are actually done with elephants in the five boroughs at this time.
Read more: It’s Great! There Isn’t a Better Seafood Restaurant in All of New Jersey
Happy and Patty, two elephants at the Bronx Zoo, each have their own acre of land.
Because “studies have proved elephants are emotionally complex and suffer deeply in inadequate enclosures,” Hanif tweeted that she was “glad to offer” a law “to finally ban elephant capacity in New York City.”
According to Courtney Fern of the Nonhuman Rights Project in Florida, who spoke with The City, “I think it’s a vital step to help reduce elephant suffering” if the proposed bill were to become law in the United States.
However, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which administers Bronx Zoo, said the legislation is “full of general, boilerplate language regarding elephants, addresses concerns that are not relevant and does not recognize our two elephants as individuals with distinct personalities.
Furthermore, it claimed that Hanif was collaborating with the Nonhuman Rights Project to “promote an anti-zoo agenda,” referring to the Nonhuman Rights Project’s recent failed court challenge against Happy’s captivity.
Read more: There Were 180 Animals Found in Terrible Circumstances in Cages in New Jersey.
Similarly, Vanessa Gibson, the borough president of the Bronx, released a statement criticizing the measure, claiming that it “unfairly targets our Wildlife Conservation Society and personnel who have a long history and profound devotion to safeguarding the animals in its care.”
An appeals court in New York sided with the Bronx Zoo and ruled against the nonprofit Nonhuman Rights Project last year, saying that Happy the elephant is not a “person” and so the lawsuit to remove her from the zoo should be dismissed.