OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 227 (File 430, as amended by Senate "A")*



This bill generally bans importing, possessing, selling, or offering for sale, or transporting in Connecticut a specimen (dead or alive) of any of five types of African animals, which the bill collectively refers to as the “big five African species.” It applies to certain elephants, lions, leopards, and two rhinoceros species.

The bill makes violating the ban a felony, and subjects a violator to a fine of up to $10,000, up to two years in prison, or both. It allows for seizure of and holding any specimen and any property or item used in connection with the violation. If there is a conviction or a judgment restraining a person from violating the ban, the bill requires that the specimen, property, or item be forfeited. The specimen, unless it is alive, property, or item also must be destroyed.

The bill contains several exemptions, including for a specimen already in the state or that is distributed to a beneficiary or heir as long as the owner or distributee obtains a certificate of possession from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). It also exempts certain museums and allows for zoological institutions and circuses to import, possess, or transport live animals covered by the bill. The bill does not apply to ivory (see BACKGROUND).

Lastly, the bill specifies that its ban does not prohibit transporting through the state endangered or threatened species subject to the terms of another state's permit, which existing law allows.

*Senate Amendment “A” prohibits living specimens from being destroyed upon a conviction or a judgment restraining a person from violating the ban.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


Species Covered

The ban applies to any specimen of any of the following five species:

1. African elephant (loxodonta Africana),

2. African lion (panthera leo),

3. African leopard (panthera pardus pardus),

4. black rhinoceros (diceros bicornis), and

5. white rhinoceros (ceratotherium simum cottoni).

A specimen includes a part, product, or offspring of the species, whether dead or alive, including part of a manufactured or food product. It excludes fossils.


The bill exempts, so long as federal law does not prohibit it, a specimen that is:

1. located or possessed in Connecticut before the bill is signed into law and whose legal owner has a certificate of possession from DEEP;

2. part of a museum collection of an institution with a federal educational or scientific tax exemption, as long as it is not subsequently sold or offered for sale, traded, bartered, or distributed to another party;

3. distributed directly to a legal beneficiary of a trust or to a legal heir; or

4. alive and being imported, transported, or possessed by a zoological institution or circus.

For a transfer to a legal beneficiary or heir to be exempt, the specimen must be located or possessed by the decedent prior to when the bill is signed into law and the beneficiary or heir must obtain a certificate of possession from DEEP within 180 days after receiving the specimen. He or she must not subsequently sell or offer the specimen for sale, or trade, barter, or distribute it to someone else.


Beginning on the bill's effective date, any law enforcement officer may enforce the bill's provisions, including executing warrants to search for and seize a banned specimen. The bill requires (1) seizing the specimen and any other property or item used in connection with violating the ban and (2) holding the specimen, property, or item pending any criminal proceeding.

Under the bill, if there is a conviction or an entry of judgment restraining a defendant from violating the ban, any specimen, property, or other item seized and held related to the violation must be forfeited. A specimen, unless alive, property, or item must also be destroyed.


Related International and Federal Law

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty under which governments agree to restrict international trade in certain plants and animals and products derived from them.

CITES provides a framework for countries to follow when adopting legislation to implement the treaty. Trade in protected species must be licensed and there are different levels of protection based on a species' endangered status. Currently, 181 countries, including the United States, are parties to the treaty.

The United States regulates the trade of the species covered by the bill through CITES and laws such as the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Specifically, trade of the species requires permits at minimum. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently engaged in efforts to amend its regulations to increase commercial trade restrictions on elephant ivory.

Related Bill

sHB 5578, reported favorably by the Environment Committee, generally prohibits purchasing, selling, or offering for sale, or possessing with intent to sell ivory, rhinoceros horn, or products containing them. It exempts certain musical instruments and antiques, transfers to certain beneficiaries or institutions, and activity allowed by federal law or as part of law enforcement.


Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute






Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable