Actress Shannon Elizabeth joined Jersey City activists and officials at Liberty State Park in recognition of New Jersey being the first state to completely prohibit the import and intrastate sale of ivory, rhino horns and other animal trophies on Elephant Day.
“Thank you for coming to Liberty State Park today, it is World Elephant Day. As many of you know, an elephant is killed every 14 minutes. Between 2010 and 2012 more than 100,000 elephants were slaughtered, were poached in Africa to fund the worlds consumption of ivory,” stated Jen Samuel, the president and founder of Elephants DC.
The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Raj Mukjherji (D-33) and state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), who were both present at today’s event, and was signed into law in August of 2014 by Gov. Chris Christie (R).
“We are here today to recognize that New Jersey took a stand in 2014 by becoming the first state in American history to enact a complete and total ivory and rhino horns sales ban,” Samuel also said.
Samuel also called for a “total ban” on ivory trading, since legal ivory trading is typically a cover up for laundering illegal ivory.
The press conference also included members of The Humane Society of the United States, representatives from the United Nations, state legislators and animal rights activists alike.
Mayor Steven Fulop, an expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate for next year, took the podium to give his views on wildlife preservation and the efforts of those involved.
“I just want to take a second to say a particular thank you to our state legislators Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji. These two individuals have been in the forefront of animal rights issues in the state of New Jersey and we couldn’t be more proud of the work that they do”.
“We’ve been working towards similar objectives here in Jersey City, just next week we’ll have on the city council taking the steps similar to Bergen County formally banning circuses that have elephants and animals here in Hudson County.”
State Council Director for the Humane Society of the United States Kathleen Schatzmann added that New Jersey’s law is “the gold standard” for other countries and has since been adopted in states such as New York, California, Washington and Hawaii.
Actress Shannon Elizabeth, who also runs the non-profit group Animal Avengers, urged everyone in attendance to join the cause, stressing that social media can be a powerful tool.
“Everyone here has a voice probably all of you are on some sort of social media, but please stop thinking about it as social media, think of it as mission media. It’s your mission to educate everyone in your circle, everyone you can possibly reach,” she said.
“There’s still so many people especially in the U.S. who don’t know about the poaching crisis. They don’t know that 96-plus elephants a day are brutally dying for their ivory, they’ve probably never even thought about where ivory comes from.”
Mukherji related preserving endangered species to the current presidential race, taking a shot at Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“In the current political discourse, we have children of one party’s presidential nominee who could be the secretary of the interior, who posts photos with sawed off tails of murdered wild elephants, with leopard trophies, with these endangered and threatened species with no compassion with our sisters and brothers in the animal kingdom. This is a dangerous thing”.
For more information on the preservation of wildlife, go to www.elephantsdc.org.