On a past Ask The Governor, I thought it was really unfair and undignified of Gov. Christie to call State Sen. Ray Lesniak a "crazy quack" and a "lunatic." After reading Lesniak's bill that would ban children from riding elephants, camels and other animals I'm no longer sure.

The bill, S2508 was passed by the Senate and the Assembly and now heads to Governor Christie's desk. It bans the use of any exotic animal for entertainment purposes, included merely children riding on it the way they would at a petting zoo. What animals are we talking? NJ defines exotic animals as "any species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mollusk, or crustacean that is not indigenous to New Jersey as determined by the Fish and Game Council." In other words, a whole lot.

In the legislation, "traveling animal act" will make one think of these animals being used for circuses and fairs and performing tricks for the entertainment of humans. But it also includes any animal that is not indigenous to New Jersey being transported to say a children's party and having children simply ride the animal. I wouldn't worry about pony rides as they shouldn't come under the heading of exotic animals. But a camel ride? An elephant ride? Fuggetaboutit.

This all came about because of the case of Nosey the elephant. Nosey was a 35 year old African elephant that belonged to a circus out of Orlando. A judge decided the creature was a victim of animal cruelty and ordered the elephant taken to a Tennessee refuge. Lesniak says forget the cruelty of having an elephant perform tricks; even children riding on the back of an elephant is wrong. Dangerous even.

"Using an injured elephant like Nosey to give rides to children and others can actually be dangerous. If the animal should stumble or collapse due to her fragile condition any rider could be injured," says the senator.

Yes, I suppose having an elephant fall on you would be dangerous Ray. Has this been happening a lot? Is this law putting an end to a dark history of squished children? The whole thing just seems preposterous to me. Can it be long before children taking pony rides will also be outlawed? Come to think of it, teaching your dog how to fetch or roll over is probably inhumane and demoralizing to the canine. Maybe all animal should be given voting rights and set up with a lobbyist in Trenton.

We'll see what Christie does with Lesniak's bill, but I wouldn't be surprised if Christie signs it in its current form outlawing animal rides.

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