Celebs petition White House for stronger elephant ivory regs

A White House petition to ban elephant ivory trafficking has gained support from several high-profile celebrities.

The woman behind the petition, Jen Samuel, president of Elephants DC, said the Obama administration's attempt to ban African elephant ivory imports does not go far enough to stop domestic trade or exports. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the new rules in February, but Samuel pointed to loopholes she believes animal traffickers could exploit. 

“We want kids to learn that 'e' is for elephant, not extinction,” she said in an interview.

Samuel filed her petition with the White House's “We the People” website on April 30. Her petition had garnered more than 9,300 signatures as of Monday evening. But in order for the Obama administration to review the petition, Samuel needs to raise a total of 100,000 signatures by the end of the month.

The cause has attracted the attention of several celebrities, including Ricky Gervais, the British comedian who created and starred in “The Office,” and Kristin Davis, who starred in “Sex in the City.”

Gervais tweeted a link asking his followers to sign the petition. “Please, please, please sign & RT to help ban the ivory trade #signforelephants #bantheivorytrade Thank You :)”

Davis tweeted: “Today I used my voice to support an Unequivocally ban all ivory commerce to save elephants from extinction. U Can 2!”

Christie Brinkley, who was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model in the 1970s, also tweeted a link to the petition.

This comes one week after the Fish and Wildlife Service issued an exemption to the rules for traveling musicians who take their instruments containing ivory overseas to play in orchestras and concerts. 

But Samuel said she is not opposed to cultural exemptions, such as for musicians or museums. She just wants the Obama administration to ban all for-profit sales of ivory. 

The petition calls for the Obama administration to close several loopholes under the current rules.

While the rules prevent products containing ivory from entering the U.S. market, Samuel said they would not stop people from exporting these products to foreign buyers, so long as they don't reenter the country.