Historic Year for Animals in California - Many Laws Passed

Historic Year for Animals in California - Many Laws Passed

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a package of historic laws to protect animals including making it illegal to sell or produce fur, hunt bobcats, use wild animals in circuses, sell the skins of many exotic animals, as well as strengthening California’s anti-horse slaughter legislation!

With the deadline for Governor Newsom's decision rapidly approaching, and the future of almost a dozen pro-animal bills - including the fur ban - uncertain, we took urgent action.


We approached cartoonist Vance Lehmkuhl, who graciously created a cartoon for our efforts to influence Governor Newsom to make fur history in California. The cartoon featured Governor Newsom signing AB 44 alongside his childhood companion, Potter the otter. We featured this cartoon on a mobile billboard with a message to the public to make urgent calls in support of the bill. Our mobile billboard toured around the Governor’s office at the state’s capitol in Sacramento on Friday, the day before the Governor signed AB44 into law. 

We suspended coverage of other issues on our social media sites and asked our supporters through a variety of posts to make calls supporting all the animal bills on the Governor’s desk.

The efforts our California supporters this year, combined with the work of so many dedicated individuals and groups paid off. Within the past couple of months, Governor Newsom passed a ban on fur trapping (AB 273 by Assemblymember L. Gonzalez) and protections for migratory birds (AB 454 by Assemblymember Kalra). On Saturday, Governor Newsom signed a raft of important new animal protection measures:

  • Assembly Bill 44 bans the sale of fur throughout California and becomes the first state in the nation to make fur history. The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Friedman. 
  • Assembly Bill 128 strengthens California's anti-horse slaughter laws by making it harder for kill-buyers to turn a profit.
  • Assembly Bill 1254 bans the trophy hunting of bobcats until 2025. Sponsored by Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove, the new law makes it unlawful to hunt, trap or otherwise “take” a bobcat except in specified circumstances such as with a depredation permit. 
  • Assembly Bill 1260 bans the trade in skins of many threatened species including sharks, hippos and caimans, and becomes law in 2022. Sponsored by Assemblymember Maienschein, it prevents the import and sale of exotic skins. Hippos and many reptiles were added to a list of other endangered or threatened species, including big cats, polar bears and dolphins.
  • Senate Bill 313 bans the use of wild animals in circuses. Senator Hueso’s Circus Cruelty Prevention Act forbids using exotic animals in circuses throughout the state. Elephants, bears, tigers, monkeys and other wild animals will benefit. 

Earlier in the week, Governor Newsom signed these important bills as well. 

  • Senate Bill 397 requires local transit operators to accept animal companions on public transit during emergency evacuations. The new law is an initiative of Senator Glazer.
  • Assembly Bill 415 protects human and animal victims of domestic violence. The new law was sponsored by Assemblymember Maienschein.
  • Assembly Bill 1162 protects the environment by banning hotels from providing miniature shampoo plastic bottles. Assemblymember Kalra championed the bill. 

“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” said California Governor, Gavin Newsom. “But we are doing more than that. We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames. Just YouTube the videos showing the cruel way these animals – often stripped from their mothers as babies – are trained to do dangerous tricks. It’s deeply disturbing.”

In Defense of Animals and other animal protection organizations campaigned tirelessly to push this lifesaving legislation forward. Our supporters made hundreds of calls and signed tens of thousands of letters to protect animals from hunters and the fashion industry and can now celebrate these momentous victories for animals in California. We can’t thank you enough.