HONOLULU—Today, the Executive Board of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture approved a proposal to prohibit dangerous wild animals—including tigers, lions, bears, primates, elephants and crocodiles—from being brought into Hawaii for performances in circuses, carnivals and other public exhibitions. The proposal passed with a vote of 6-3 and was in response to a legal petition filed by the Humane Society of the United States in 2014.
Keith Dane, Hawaii policy adviser for the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Wild animals used for entertainment are trained with pain and the fear of punishment, caged and chained in trucks and trailers, forced to endure months of grueling travel and bullied to perform silly tricks. They pose a public health and safety risk as well as risks to Hawaii's natural resources. There is simply no need to involve wild animals in any form of live entertainment.”
Four states and more than 145 other localities in 37 states have enacted restrictions regarding the use of wild animals in circuses and other traveling shows as a result of growing public awareness of the mistreatment these animals endure. In 2015, Hawaii Governor David Ige pledged to discontinue the issuance of permits to ship exotic animals across the Pacific Ocean to be used for outdated and inhumane exhibitions. This regulation needs to go to the Governor for final approval and if signed Hawaii will become the first state to effectively prohibit the use of many wild animal species in traveling shows and exhibitions.