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In an era when the ethics of using animals for entertainment are increasingly scrutinized, New York State Senator James Skoufis stands up for primates. In a recent legislative move that’s catching attention, Skoufis proposed a bill to end what he describes as a cruel and antiquated form of entertainment: monkeys parading as jockeys in the notorious ‘banana races.’
The catalyst for this legislative move was a controversial event at last year’s Orange County Fair, where capuchin monkeys donned costumes and performed as mock horse riders riding dogs. The spectacle drew criticism for the stress it could cause to the primates, prompting Skoufis to take action.
The proposed bill, introduced this week, advocates for the ban on using primates in live entertainment acts such as circuses, trade shows, carnivals, parades, and other public events. Skoufis asserts that forcing these intelligent creatures into stressful and unnatural environments solely for the amusement of humans contradicts an evolving societal perspective that promotes the well-being of animals.
While the proposal may not be the top priority for Albany Democrats in the current legislative session ending on June 8, it plays an important part in an ongoing, legislator-led crackdown on animal cruelty. The initiative signals a shift in the collective consciousness about our responsibilities towards the animal kingdom, particularly those species that show a high level of intelligence, such as primates.
Primates, which encompasses monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, are known for their social behavior and cognitive abilities. Animal welfare advocates argue that these animals would undoubtedly prefer socializing and natural behaviors rather than participating in human amusement acts.
Similarly, New York City banned primates and other wild animals from circus performances in 2017. The fate of ‘banana races’ and other primate-involved entertainments across New York State now hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, the state Senate continues to advocate for the welfare of animals, passing legislation that bans an extensive list of exotic animals, including hyenas, rhinoceroses, and elephants, from being kept as domestic pets. This bill, sponsored by State Senator Monica Martinez, addresses ethical concerns and potential public health and safety issues associated with keeping exotic animals at home.
As we advance into a future that respects the rights and well-being of all living creatures, such legislative changes may become more commonplace. It’s a timely reminder that animals like us deserve a life free from unnecessary stress and discomfort.
We can help these animals by not supporting the businesses that exploit them. Refrain from buying tickets to circuses, zoos, or movies that use wild animals. This will leave these companies with less financial Support to keep their cruel practices going. Today’s special effects and simulations provide the same visual experience as watching an animal on screen or stage without the involvement of cruelty or captivity. The film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” wowed movie-goers with incredible computer-generated imagery (CGI) and considering the film brought in $100 million during opening weekend in the U.S. alone, and we think audiences and producers would agree.
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