FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 20, 2016

Contact: John Blasco, (212) 788-7366,


Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Animal Rights Advocates call for the passage of a bill that would ban the display of wild or exotic animals in New York City


New York – On Thursday, October 20th 2016 New York City Councilmember Rosie Mendez joined Christina Scaringe, Animal Defenders International; Joyce Friedman, The Humane Society of the United States; Catherine Doyle, M.S., Director of Science, Research & Advocacy, Performing Animal Welfare Society; Maragret Whittaker, Animal Behavior Consultant on Positive Reinforcement and Enrichment, and many other advocates to call on the City Council to pass Intro 1233.

Intro 1233 would require New York City to prohibit the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement. The proposed legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez in all three of her legislative terms beginning in April 2006, does have exemptions to the bill that includes zoos, museums, conservatories; animals displayed for religious purposes, domesticated and companion animals.

Intro 1233 is about safety and security for the animals and the public. Animals meant to be in the wild are not born to perform tricks and their instincts can have dangerous results. We should not continue to sustain a harsh and hazardous industry simply because it is a tradition. Intro 1233 currently has 9 other Council Members as co-sponsors who are looking to mandate protections and keep unnecessary performances out of our city.

“I’m excited to get a hearing after 10 years of proposing legislation that would ban the display of wild or exotic animals now known as Intro 1233,” said NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. “I want to thank Councilmember Corey Johnson for co-introducing this bill with me. Intro 1233 is and always has been about the safety and security of animals and human beings. This bill is a step in ensuring that animals are in their natural state, not confined in boxcars or treated in other inhumane ways and thereby protecting humans from animals that might and have acted ferociously.”

“We now know more about the proper treatment of wild and exotic animals than we did in the past,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Entertainment alone is not an excuse to put these animals through more than they ever should have to endure. As a City, it’s easy to say that we value the proper treatment of animals. The difficult part is ensuring that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent animal mistreatment. I thank Council Member Rosie Mendez for her leadership on this issue, as well as our colleagues in the Council and countless advocates who have joined with us in this effort.”

“Animal Defenders International was honored to work with Councilwoman Mendez on this measure to protect wild animals and New York citizens from cruel and dangerous traveling acts. There is no humane existence for wild animals under this business model. The reality is a life of severe confinement, physical & psychological deprivation, extensive transport, brutal & violent control methods, inconsistent oversight, and a public very much unaware of the potential risk. Agencies admit federal regulations aren’t working; public safety is left to cities like New York. Banning wild animals isn’t the end of the circus. Human performance circuses are popular – they require labor, create jobs, and bring dollars to your city without the attendant risks of chronically stressed, abused animals. We encourage New York to join other world-class cities like Barcelona, Bogotá, Rio, San Francisco, Singapore, and 33 diverse nations that have acted in this regard,” said Christina Scaringe, General Counsel, Animal Defenders International.

“It’s 2016, New Yorkers don’t want to see elephants or other wildlife tortured or abused for entertainment. It’s wonderful that Council Member Mendez’s bill to protect these majestic creatures is finally being heard at City Hall and I look forward to its swift passage,” said John Phillips, east villager, former executive director New York League of Humane Voters and long-time animal advocate.

“Animals in circuses and other traveling displays live in unending misery, deprivation, long-term confinement and grueling travel schedules. They are trained to perform unnatural “tricks” through punishment and pain. Circuses with willing human performers are wonderful and welcome in NYC, but it’s time to eliminate all the animal acts. No animal should suffer for the sake of entertainment. We commend the leadership of Council Member Rosie Mendez who is a champion of this bill and Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson for holding a hearing on this important legislation,” said Joyce Friedman, NYC Coordinator, The Humane Society of the United States.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said “Unlike human entertainers, animals do not choose the circus life; they are kept imprisoned and forced to take part in the show. The inhumane conditions are compounded by the threat their presence poses to public safety. Wild animals are inherently unpredictable and incapable of being tamed, and such close proximity to the public creates a serious risk. Animal-free shows, like Cirque du Soleil, will still be welcome in the city, and neither the economic strength nor the vibrant culture of NYC will suffer a loss.”

“Friends of Animals strongly supports passage of Int. 1223 to prohibit the display and exhibition of wild and exotic animals in New York City.  Animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, bears, alligators, monkeys and apes shouldn’t suffer to entertain us in the year 2016.  The New York City Council should pass Int. 1233 to assure that New York City has a humane standard regarding the treatment of wild animals held for commercial purposes,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports legislation in New York City to protect wild and exotic animals from the misery and indignity that public performance entails for far too many animals,” said Jeff Pierce, Legislative Counsel, The Animal Legal Defense Fund. “New York City should join San Francisco and privilege the needs of wild animals above the rapidly dwindling public demand for the silly tricks and inhumane lives that animals forced to perform must endure.”

“Perhaps in the past society did not recognize or know enough about the sad plight of wild animals. We can no longer escape what we now do know—that wild animals have inherent needs of their own that cannot be met when they are severely confined, chained, or forced to do tricks. There is nothing amusing or entertaining about the suffering of animals and the NYC Council has the opportunity to do something about it by passing Int. No. 1233. We thank the Council for their support,” said Elinor Molbegott, Legal Counsel/Animal Issues, Humane Society of New York.

“Protests outside circuses and SeaWorld have proved that today’s public simply doesn’t want to see animals used and abused in the entertainment industry—and lawmakers are taking notice. Towns, cities, and even states across the country have banned the weapons that circuses use to beat elephants into submission or made it illegal to cage and whip tigers under the big top. New York City’s proposed law could not be timelier or have more public support, and PETA looks forward to seeing a kinder future for exotic animals in the five boroughs,” said Rachel Mathews, PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement.

“Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), Long Island’s largest animal advocacy organization, strongly supports the proposed ordinance to prohibit the commercial display or performance of wild and exotic animals in New York City. Confining intelligent, sensitive live animals to tiny enclosures and threatening them with whips and bullhooks sends the dangerous anti-conservationist message that wild animals are ours to dominate, display, and use for profit–not any message we should be teaching our children,” said John Di Leonardo, President and Anthrozoologist, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION).

With this forward-thinking legislation, the Council rightly rejects the inherent cruelty involved in the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement, and in doing so, promotes the interests of New York City’s urban wildlife. Rather than providing an educational opportunity, exposing children to circuses normalizes the exploitation of others and teaches that it is appropriate to confine, abuse, and gawk at non-humans and to put their most trivial interests ahead of the fundamental interests of others. At the same time, urban wildlife in New York City is in need of appreciation, attention, and protection, and the presence of these free-living animals provides a meaningful opportunity for New Yorkers to learn about and engage with wildlife in a way that artificial experiences like marching elephants down city streets can never satisfy, ,” said David Karopkin, GooseWatch NYC.

“For generations, using, and abusing, wildlife for entertainment was an acceptable part of our culture,” said Erika Mansourian, Executive Director, Elephant Family-USA. “But as awareness of the intellectual and emotional sophistication and complexity of animals has grown–backed by copious research–it has become clear to a compassionate society that allowing such archaic and barbaric practices is intolerable. Passing Intro Bill 1233 will allow New York City to join the many other cities and countries around the world that have passed similar legislation.”



October 2016 Updates


Rosie’s Office is Moving from East 14th Street
Unfortunately, we must report that our office needs to move from its location. The district office located at 237 First Ave, at the Southwest corner of East 14th Street, was also home to previous Councilwoman Margarita Lopez. Every commercial tenant in the tenant was served with a notice to vacate, including Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who now occupies an office at 250 Broadway full-time. This suite on the fifth floor has served constituents of Council District 2 for over two decades and the displacement is sad news to Team Rosie. As the exhausting search for affordable space within the boundaries of the district continues, we will be sure to keep you updated when we relocate.

Unveiling Ceremony for PS 15’s New Playground
The Trust for Public Land and Rosie unveiled a new playground for PS 15 The Roberto Clemente School on September 20th, 2016. Rosie allocated $500,000 towards the project, while nearly $1 million playground renovation was funded through a public-private partnership, with private funds raised by the Trust for Public Land from Charina Endowment Fund. Rosie stated: “The P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente School is the beneficiary of a public-private partnership that brought a renovated environmentally friendly playground to my community in record time. This project would have needed to wait another fiscal year to enable me to allocate the entire funding. The reality is that without the partnership of the Trust for Public Land, we would not have been able to break ground when we did. The Trust for Public Land worked with DOE, the community, the school and its’ children to envision and design a recreational multi-use area. In addition, they worked with the School Construction Authority and DEP to create a state-of-the-art green playground that will benefit the community at large.”


Astor Place Plaza Construction Update
The Astor Place Plaza is back up and running after being out of commission for renovation and repairs. The Office of Emergency Management held community preparedness fair at the newly renovated Astor Place Plaza. Agencies such as NYPD, FDNY, Con Edison, the Department of Environment Protection, and the Department of Health were at the event with helpful materials and giveaways. The agencies stationed at the plaza gave important information on what New Yorkers should and need to do in case of an emergency.
The local business improvement district, Village Alliance, just finished their “Astor Alive!” weekend which was filled with performances from various groups including Theatre for the New City and the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
Also awaiting its return to its home is the Alamo Cube. The Department of Design and Construction has delayed the return of the Alamo Cube twice. Rosie’s office is currently in communication with DDC to identify the return date and schedule a Ribbon Cutting / Cube Spinning Ceremony. Details will be announced via Rosie’s website:


Quality of Life Issues
After a relatively quiet summer, Rosie’s office has seen a slight uptick in calls/complaints about homelessness and public displays of lude behavior. We continue to work closely with the Department of Homeless Services and Breaking Ground to ensure that homeless individuals continue to be offered services in a timely manner. We continue to urge people to contact 311 and to ask that a street team be dispatched to offer services. In addition, if you see anyone who could be a danger to themselves or others, please call 911. With the installment of the LinkNYC Kiosks new issues have presented themselves. Some users of the kiosks have been charging their phones and devices. Others have been using the kiosks for unintended purposes searching for and watching lewd material. We have alerted DoITT to this occurrence. In response, DoITT has instituted security measures similar to those in schools and libraries protecting against inappropriate content. In addition, the internet browser feature will be removed. Other measures of dealing with inappropriate uses of the kiosks are being investigated and Rosie will be meeting with the DoITT Commissioner to suggested ways to address this issue. We look forward to reporting more on this soon.
L Train Shutdown
Over the last decade, the L train has become one of the busiest subway lines. Due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy the Canarsie Tunnel, that links Manhattan and Brooklyn, was damaged and is in need of reconstruction. The MTA and NYC Transit have come to a decision to select an 18 month reconstruction period for the L train Canarsie Tunnel. There are numerous proposals that have been discussed and Rosie will be taking a look to see how these alternative options will benefit and / or harm residents, visitors, and small businesses. For inquiries or questions related to the L train please contact 311. To receive assistance on a complaint regarding the MTA or NYC Transit, call Rosie’s office at 212-677-1077.

Rosie Listens to the Peopleway Proposal
On Monday, September 26, 2016, Rosie’s office attended a workshop on “The PeopleWay” at Town and Village Synagogue on E 14th Street. The PeopleWay is an initiative led by Transportation Alternatives to reconfigure street space when the L-Train shuts down in 2018. This plan intends to limit 14th street access to private automobiles while building bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and wider sidewalks for commuters, visitors and residents. The goal is to double the street’s capacity and create a safer and more efficient way to travel this important transportation corridor.

When the L-Train shuts down, there will be 50,000 people every day in Manhattan alone that must find alternative transportation. To alleviate congestion from private cars that are likely to increase on this road, alternatives to mass transit will be important to organize and coordinate. This plan hopes to increase the number of people taking transit, walking, and biking and will include multiple agencies and stakeholders in the visioning process.

In the breakout groups during the workshops, concerns brought forward by residents included: parking availability, side street congestion, small business survival, and access to transportation for seniors and people with limited mobility. It is clear improvements are needed to our pedestrian signals and our bus service. The Council will continue to look at creative proposals and suggestions to prepare for 2018.
Kips Bay Court Sale
As reported in the press, Kips Bay Court is being sold by Phipps Houses and their investment partners. The bidding process which took place in August was won by the Blackstone Group. While the purchase has not been completed yet, the closing process is moving forward at this time. Rosie and her elected colleagues understand that there will be many questions and concerns about what this change in ownership will mean for residents. Understanding what residents’ rights are, what agreements are in place, and what assistance is available if needed, as well as creating an ongoing dialogue with the new owner will be critical. Once the sale is finalized, Rosie will work with her colleagues to facilitate any needed conversations with residents and the Blackstone Group. Blackstone is the same group who purchased Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village last year.


Stuyvesant Square Park Dog Run Opens
Rosie is happy to announce that the Stuyvesant Square Park Dog Run is open for business! Rosie dedicated city capital funding to renovate the historic, landmarked fence. That work which took place over the spring and summer is finally complete! There is a new wrought iron fence and newly paved sidewalks around the east side portion of the park. The total project costs were a little over $4,000,000.00. Rosie was able to accomplish this with the assistance of Council Member Dan Garodnick and then-Borough President Scott Stringer who also allocated funding for this project. While some work is still being done, the dog run is open for business!
Exotic Animal Ban Proposed Legislation Gets a Hearing
Rosie first introduced the Exotic Animal Ban proposed legislation in April 2006 when she first took office. In the following two legislative terms, Rosie has re-introduced the bill. Currently, Intro 1233, will be receiving its first hearing in this legislative term. On October 20th, at 10am in the Council Chambers of City Hall, the Health Committee will hold a hearing on this bill. Rosie and Councilmember Corey Johnson have introduced Intro 1233 to ban the display of wild or exotic animals. There are exemptions to the bill which includes zoos, museums, conservatories, domesticated and companion animals, and animals only displayed for religious purposes. The public is allowed to testify before the Health Committee of the City Council.

Rosie’s Office is Moving from E 14th Street

Unfortunately, we must report that our office needs to move from its location. The district office located at 237 First Ave, at the Southwest corner of East 14th Street, was also home to previous Councilwoman Margarita Lopez. Every commercial tenant in the tenant was served with a notice to vacate, including Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who now occupies an office at 250 Broadway full-time. This suite on the fifth floor has served constituents of Council District 2 for over two decades and the displacement is sad news to Team Rosie. As the exhausting search for affordable space within the boundaries of the district continues, we will be sure to keep you updated when we relocate.

Please do not visit the district office as Rosie’s team is not there. We are currently working out of 250 Broadway. You can call 212-788-7366 or 212-677-1077 to contact the office.

Rosie’s Statement re: East Houston Rezoning


For Immediate Release

September 9th, 2016

“The application to rezone Houston Street to add a commercial overlay in my district did not move forward at the City Council. While a vote was scheduled to take place on September 8th, I did not feel that moving forward with the proposed commercial overlay was in the best interests of the community and the applicant withdrew their application. In 2008, my office worked closely with Community Board 3, the Department of City Planning, advocacy groups, residents, and businesses to address out-of-scale development happening across the Lower East Side and East Village. The selection of residential contextual districts was done in a purposeful manner which would allow for new development but protected the residential character of the community. The planning efforts completed in 2008 was the community’s self-determination for its future. It was the result of a transparent process that involved comprehensive thinking about the entire area. Continuing that tradition, the community board, and my staff evaluated the change in zoning and felt that only community facility or residential uses are the most appropriate uses in this area. In addition, the significant interest of area community facility providers leads me to believe that there is a high demand for the community facility space that will be offered at 255 East Houston Street. I remain open to helping to place 4,000 square feet of a non-profit or community oriented community facility at the location.”