New York is working to ban the use of psychoactive drugs in zoos

Yvonne O'Halloran

New York State Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas and State Senator Jabari Brisport have introduced legislation to improve life for animals in zoos. Known as Johari’s Law, the legislation would ban zoos’ use of psychoactive drugs. These drugs are used to coerce animals into mating, as well as sedating them.

If passed, the law provides protections to animals in zoos. The institutions will not be allowed to use medication to enable breeding.

González-Rojas and Brisport argue that neither mating or reproduction should be forced via drugs. “What happened to Johari is state-sanctioned sexual violence on vulnerable animals who are harmed because of our capitalistic desire to entertain people at the expense of other species,” González-Rojas said. “Breeding is a natural process that should not be forced by the use of psychoactive drugs. Animals deserve our protection and that is especially the case for those in the captivity of zoos.”

Johari’s Law was specifically inspired by the story of a female gorilla, Johari. The animal repeatedly fought off the male she was encouraged to mate with, leading to the zoo giving her Prozac. The drug not only calmed Johari down, but it also allowed the male gorilla to mate with her. According to the story, published in The New York Times, zoos also use psychoactive drugs to manage the animals’ reactions to being held captive.

The new legislation already has the support of several animal protection organizations, such as Voters for Animal Rights, Four Paws, and Last Chance for Animals.

Article written by Tessa Altman- United States

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