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Hawai‘i 2nd State to Ban Wild Animal Circus Acts

December 27, 2018, 12:28 PM HST · Updated December 27, 12:28 PM
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Photo credit: Animal Defenders International (ADI)

Hawaiʻi became the second US state to ban wild animal circus acts when Governor David Ige signed into law rule amendments to ban the import of elephants, tigers, bears, and other “dangerous” wild animals for circus and carnival performances and exhibitions.

The revised administrative rule was signed on Friday, Dec. 21, and prohibits the importation of dangerous wild animals for exhibition in circuses or carnivals in Hawaiʻi.

It follows adoption of the legislation by the Small Business Regulatory Review Board earlier in the month, and makes good on Governor Ige’s 2015 promise to end these cruel and dangerous acts.

Animal Defenders International submitted written testimony at recent meetings, along with local advocates who worked for years to end circus animal cruelty in Hawaiʻi.

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Representatives with ADI reflected on the death of circus elephant Tyke in 1994.  The elephant was killed on the streets of Honolulu, having been shot at least 87 times after escaping the circus and fatally injuring her trainer.

Photo credit: Animal Defenders International (ADI)

“Some stories really tear at your heart and, actually, Tyke’s story is emblematic of what circus animals suffer every day, to this day. Thanks to Governor Ige and to the people of Hawaiʻi for honoring Tyke – it’s now time to end circus animal suffering everywhere,” said Christina Scaringe, ADI General Counsel.

According to ADI, studies show that the health and welfare of animals in traveling circuses is inevitably compromised due to necessarily small, barren, mobile accommodations, restricted movement, long journeys and excessive periods of time spent in transporters and containers.

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The Hawaiʻi ban comes just a week after New Jersey became the first US state to introduce a ban on wild animal circus acts. A number of states have similar measures under consideration, including Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania; meanwhile a federal bill to end the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows nationwide – the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA/H.R.1759) – is gaining bipartisan support in the US House.

Around the world, 45 countries have passed national prohibitions on the use of wild and/or exotic animals – and in some cases all animals – in circuses.  A total of 88 jurisdictions in 31 states have taken action to restrict the use of wild animals in traveling circuses, including New York City and San Francisco, which have banned wild animal circus acts.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “The days of animals suffering in traveling circuses are numbered. We hope that Hawaiʻi’s decision to make circus suffering history will inspire other US states to protect people and animals when the circus comes to town.”

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