bear 042423SPRINGFIELD – Longtime animal welfare backer State Senator Linda Holmes passed a law in 2017 to prohibit the use of an elephant in a traveling animal act. On Friday, she moved legislation to further address public safety concerns with “roadside zoos” by creating a Class B misdemeanor for allowing a member of the public to come into contact with a bear or nonhuman primate.

“The public handling and show of these animals continues a cycle of endless breeding where they are born into captivity to be used as props and business commodities,” said Holmes (D-Aurora). “They also may result in harm to the person or animal in such a situation — a risk that could create a terrible tragedy.”

The prohibition is limited to allowing public contact. The misdemeanor charge would be for any person who allows such an encounter. Any law enforcement or peace officer may enforce the provision, and the Attorney General or State's Attorney may bring an action to enforce the provision or for an injunction to restrain any actual or threatened violation.

Senate Bill 1883 was approved Friday by the Senate on a vote of 43-9. It will now head to the House for their consideration.