Reading Time: 2 minutes Zoos give animals like gorillas psychoactive drugs to better control them Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

A New York bill aims to ban the practice of giving zoo animals psychoactive drugs following concerns about animal cruelty.

New York State Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas and vegan State Senator Jabari Bisport introduced the bill.

The legislation, called Johari’s Law, was introduced in response to a New York Times article on drug use in zoos.

In the article, environmental writer Emma Marris explained that zoos use psychoactive drugs to better control animals in captivity. Marris wrote about Johari, a female gorilla who was placed with a male in an attempt to breed them.

Johari kept fighting off the male, so the zoo gave her Prozac until she eventually surrendered.

Prozac is an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, among other things.

‘Animals deserve our protection’

The New York Times article highlighted a survey that included US and Canadian zoos. It found that nearly half of the 31 zoos surveyed gave their gorillas psychopharmaceutical drugs, like Valium.

Zoos also administer psychoactive drugs to animals like polar bears, ostriches, and monkeys.

“Breeding is a natural process that should not be forced by the use of psychoactive drugs,” said González-Rojas. “Animals deserve our protection and that is especially the case for those in the captivity of zoos.”

“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,” she added.

Matthew Dominguez is a political adviser for Voters for Animal Rights. He said: “The fact that zoos are drugging animals in order to breed them demonstrates just how abusive these archaic institutions are both physically and psychologically for non-human animals.”

“We applaud Sen. Brisport and Asm. González-Rojas for introducing this important bill that seeks to end the repulsive practice of drugging animals.” 

Jemima Webber

Jemima is the News Writer for Plant Based News. She was previously Senior Editor for another vegan media outlet, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science. Originally from Australia, Jemima now lives in Utrecht in the Netherlands with her dog Levi, and loves writing music in her free time.