March 5, 2022
Earlier this week, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 56 (HB 56), a bill that will extend temporary permits from sixty day to six months for out-of-state veterinarians providing services to nationally accredited zoos & aquariums.
This change will make it easier for animals in these facilities to receive nationwide expert care and consultation when they fall seriously ill. The bill came at the heels of a tough year at the ABQ BioPark, where several apes and elephants died of disease. The legislation was initiated by former State Representative Brittney Barreras, who left the Legislature before the bill could pass, and State Representative (and House Majority Floor Leader) Javier Martínez kindly carried this effort forward. Other bill cosponsors include Rep. Phelps Anderson, Rep. Kelly Fajardo, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto.
- There are two nationally accredited facilities in New Mexico: ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque; and Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park in Carlsbad.
- Other zoos in New Mexico that operate but are NOT nationally-accredited: Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo; Hillcrest Park Zoo in Clovis; and Spring River Zoo in Roswell.
A beneficial side-effect of HB 56’s passage through the legislature included some important discussion about the need to ensure access to veterinary care for not just zoos, but also everyday families, especially for vital spay/neuter services.
It also spurred discussion about the zoos in New Mexico that could improve their operations in order to meet the standards for national accreditation, which can only better serve the animals in their care. There have been frequent complaints about substandard enclosures for some non-accredited facilities, leading to humane and public safety concerns.
Animal Protection Voters looks forward to continuing these conversations, and in the meantime, we applaud Governor Lujan Grisham and legislators for their leadership in this positive step forward for captive wildlife care.