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State Senator Linda Holmes sponsors legislation on a variety of topics each year, and it isn’t unusual for her animal welfare bills to gain media attention. That has risen to a new level this week as her “bear selfie” law has been featured in National Geographic.

“Throughout my career in the Illinois Senate, I have championed laws that address how wild and domestic animals are confined and used for profit, often in dangerous and unhealthy conditions,” said Holmes (D-Aurora). “The Wild Animal Public Safety Act addresses concerns with roadside zoos and traveling exhibitions by prohibiting close public contact with all primates and bears.”

The new law took effect Jan. 1, 2024, making it a Class B misdemeanor for any person to allow any member of the public, except for certain exempted people, to encounter a bear or primate. The National Geographic story added that Holmes’ 2017 law made Illinois the first state to prohibit using captive elephants in traveling circuses.

“The use of these animals continues a cycle of endless breeding where they are born into captivity to be used as props and business commodities,” said Holmes. “These interactions have caused harm to people and animals. That risk can create a terrible tragedy.”

National Geographic’s important new laws article included other animal issues Illinois has already taken action on, including measures led by Holmes regarding pet store sales of puppy mill animals, developing non-animal research methods, and making dogs and cats used in lab experiments available for adoption.

RELATED: Holmes earns 100% on Humane Society’s 2023 animal welfare legislation scorecard