Suffolk County legislators have proposed a new law that would ban exotic animals from being used in traveling performances, sponsors and supporters of the bill announced Monday.
The announcement comes after recent reports of wild animals either on the loose or being used for entertainment purposes in ways that animal advocates have deemed unsafe for both humans and animals.
“We’ve had allegations of snakes and crocodiles and all sorts of other animals in this county being taken to county parks and for parties and we want to make sure that that’s not allowed,” said Legislator Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon).
Richberg led a news conference at Suffolk’s legislative building along with a bipartisan group of legislators to talk about the proposed legislation. He is cosponsoring the bill with Legislators Leslie Kennedy (R-Smithtown) and Trish Bergin (R-Islip).
“This kind of treatment of these animals is extremely inhumane,” Bergin said in a statement. “No domestic exotic animal should be in the touching range of a child.”
Kennedy said that there have been reports of misuse of tigers, as well as an alligator and a lynx on the loose in the county, and that the new law would “protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of the general public.”
John DiLeonardo, president and executive director of Humane Long Island, noted that circuses coming to Suffolk County, such as the Ringling Bros. and Flip Circus, have nixed animal performances. “The time of tigers and bears being brought to this county and being used and exploited for exhibition is over,” he said.
The announcement also comes after a Hauppauge business, Sloth Encounters, was shut down after complaints about the sloths being used for public entertainment. Legislators said the new law is not meant to target any particular entity, but to discourage traveling exotic animals, preventing animal mistreatment and potential health risks to humans.