On December 14, New Jersey became the first state in the United States to outlaw the use of wild animals in circuses, followed closely by Hawaii, which enacted a similar ban on December 21. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed “Nosey’s Law”—named after a retired circus elephant—into state legislature after the measure passed Senate unanimously in June. In Hawaii, Governor David Ige signed the “Plant and Non-Domestic Animal Quarantine Non-Domestic Animal Import Rules,” which bans the use and importation of wild animals—including tigers, lions, bears, primates, elephants, and crocodiles—in circuses, carnivals, and traveling shows. For several years, a number of animal-rights groups, including The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), petitioned both states to create legislation to protect wild animals from exploitation. “These reforms in Hawaii and New Jersey have been a long time coming,” HSUS CEO Kitty Block said. “The animals are routinely deprived of adequate exercise, veterinary care, or even regular food and water. There is simply no need to involve wild animals in any form of live entertainment. Thank you to Hawaii Governor Ige and New Jersey Governor Murphy for ending the year with these sweeping reforms.” Increasing public awareness of the cruelty endured by animals exploited for entertainment is leading to decreasing ticket sales to circuses and wild animal shows, so much so that last year, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final show after operating for 146 years.

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