Hawaii likely will become the first U.S. state to ban the use of elephants, bears and other exotic wild animals for entertainment purposes.
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture board on Tuesday unanimously approved a
proposed rules change that would define "dangerous wild animals" and prohibit
the import of such animals "for exhibition or performance in public
entertainment shows such as circuses, carnivals and state fairs." The rules make
exceptions for commercial filming in television or movies and in government
Tyke, a 20-year-old female African circus elephant, escaped from the Neal
Blaisdell Centerafter trampling a groomer and killing her trainer during a
performance with Honolulu's Circus International on Aug. 20, 1994. She charged
down Honolulu streets before being gunned down by police.
With Tuesday's preliminary approval, the issue heads to statewide public
hearings. Agriculture department spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi told HuffPost in
an email that the proposed rules must still be reviewed by the Hawaii Attorney
General's office and approved by Hawaii Gov. David Ige.
Not surprisingly, the proposal is generating opposition from fair and circus
advocates. As the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday, the Circus Fans
Association submitted written testimony in which it characterized proponents of
the measure as "animal rights extremists" who wrongly claim that the animals are