Hawaii has officially banned the use of bears, elephants and other exotic wild animals for use in performances throughout the state. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture came to a ruling regarding the definition of “dangerous wild animals” and unanimously approved a new set of regulations regarding such wild animals, including prohibiting the import of these animals “for exhibition or performance in public entertainment shows such as circuses, carnivals and state fairs.” Some exceptions are being made for filmmaking and commercial zoos.
Hawaii is the first state to enact such a ban. The ruling likely stems from an incident on August 20, 1994 where a circus elephant got loose and went on a killing spree through the streets of Honolulu. The elephant, named Tkye, crushed her groomer and killed her trainer during a circus performance in Honolulu. A documentary entitled “Tkye Elephant Outlaw”detailing this incident was released just three days prior to the new rulings.
This news is a focal win for animal rights activists throughout the world. The director of the Humane Society of Hawaii stated: “We’re hoping of course that Hawaii will set an example for other states to take the next step.” As of today, 50 municipalities in 22 different states as well as several other countries have already begun enforcing such regulations on the use of animals for entertainment. Hawaii is the first state in its entirety to enact the ban.
Of course, not everyone is so happy about the ban. The Circus Fans Association provided written testimony during the ruling to discredit the animal rights groups, whom they refer to as ‘extremists’, claiming that they made false statements regarding the treatment of the animals. But overall, the new law has been met with widespread agreement.