We wish you health and happiness in the new year. Here is a roundup of the latest MFE activity as well as ways that you can help support elephants in 2024.
Legislation in Motion
MFE board members Sheryl Becker and Eric McNulty were at the State House in Boston for the Paws and Policy Information Day sponsored by the MSPCA Advocacy Team, the Massachusetts chapter of the Humane Society of the U.S., and the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the Animal Defense League Fund on January 17, 2024. It was an excellent opportunity to advocate for the two bills below.
The “circus” bill (H.3245/S.2189), formally known as An Act Relative to the Use of Elephants, Big Cats, Primates, Giraﬀes, and Bears in Traveling Shows came before the Commi/ee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development (CTACD) for a hearing this past summer. MFE board members testiﬁed on behalf of the bill, coordinating action with the Massachuse/s chapter of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Massachuse/s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). There seemed to be good support among the committee to move the bill forward.
The HSUS coordinated a visit by legislators to Zoo New England, where they learned about the complex veterinary care required for these animals. It was described as “eye-opening” and made clear how traveling shows can not provide the necessary support for these species.
What’s next: The committee votes the bill “out of the commi/ee” to move forward (or not) by February 7, 2024.
What you can do: Please check the list of co-sponsors on the MA Legislature page for the bill and see if your representative sits on the CTACD. If your representative is a co-sponsor, write to thank him or her and voice your support for moving the bill forward. If your representative is not a co-sponsor or on the CTACD, hold tight. We’ll be making a push to rally broader support, assuming that the bill moves forward.
A hearing on the “Ivory Bill (S.519), formally known as An Act Relative to Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Traﬃcking, was held by Environmental and Natural Resources committee (NRC) in November. MFE board members testiﬁed in favor of the bill. Again, activities were coordinated with HSUS and the MSPCA. This bill is a longer shot in the current session. It still faces opposition from parties in the antiques and collectibles ﬁeld and others who feel that the ban would hurt either their businesses or the value of their possessions. The present bill reﬂects many adjustments to the bill have been made to address these concerns.
If this bill fails to move forward, MFE is prepared to investigate alternative approaches. This includes broadening the bill to cover additional species, a strategy that worked in Vermont.
What’s next: The committee votes the bill “out of the committee” to move forward (or not) by February 7, 2024.
What you can do: Please check the list of co-sponsors on the MA Legislature page for the bill and see if your representative sits on the NRC. If your representative is a co-sponsor, write to thank him or her and voice your support for moving the bill forward. If your representative sits on the NRC and is not a co-sponsor, please write or call to urge that they vote favorably to move it forward. As with the circus bill, we’ll be making a push to rally broad support should the bill move forward.
The Legislature has a lot to do before the February 7 deadline. We thus do not want to overwhelm them with outreach now. Short, simple, targeted messages will do the most good at the moment.
Brookline Takes Action
The Town Meeting in Brookline voted to ban the use of wild animals in traveling acts during its November 2023 session. The eﬀorts were led by youth activists from Brookline High School’s Warriors for Animal Rights student group. MFE supported the students and provided video testimony for Town Meeting.
While Brookline does not host any traveling acts, action by individual towns can help inﬂuence legislation at the state level (see above). Similar bans would be most helpful in Boston, Worcester, Springﬁeld, and West Springﬁeld, cities with the most likely venues for circuses and other traveling shows featuring animals.
The Warriors for Animal Rights also introduced a warrant article to ban the sale of mammals and birds in Brookline. It, too, passed with overwhelming support.
Continuing to Support Amboseli
MFE sent its quarterly donation to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) The Amboseli ecosystem is critical for the population of elephants in East Africa. It was struck by severe drought in 2023 and is now under threat because land that had been held communally for millennia is now being divided into small, privately owned plots.
ATE monitors more than 3,500 elephants across 8,000 kilometers. Their work is critical to understanding what is happening to the animals and their habitat. We are proud to support their ongoing endeavors.
Coming in February – A Virtual Meet-Up
MFE is planning a Zoom-based meet-up for our supporters (and all elephant lovers) in February. As soon as we have updates on the state of the bills in the MA legislature, we’ll send an invitation. If you know people who might be interested, please forward their full contact information to us [how would we want to do this?]
Thank you for your ongoing support and your commitment to elephants!