BY: DANIKA MOIR
In mid November of this year, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture met to discuss the importation of exotic animals for the use of entertainment. The board unanimously voted that they would ban the import of exotic animals “for exhibition or performance,” making them the first U.S. state to ban the entertainment-driven use of bears, elephants, large cats, and various other exotic animals.
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture unanimously voted against the use of exotic animals as entertainment.
The ban, however, still allows exotic animals to be used to film television and movies, and in government-run zoos. The drafting of the ban was influenced by a documentary called Tyke Elephant Outlaw, which was about an elephant that escaped into Honolulu and was shot down by police officers in 1994. David Ige, Hawaii’s Governor, pledged early in 2015 to stop issuing permits that allow wild animal exhibits and performances.
Tyke the elephant after she escaped into the streets of Honolulu.
If the ban on the use of exotic animals used as entertainment passes, then Hawaii will be the first state to enforce the ban. In 22 other states, 50 municipalities have enforced a partial or full ban on this use of exotic animals. If the ban passes, it will be enforced starting as early as 2016. The ban is stirring up some unhappiness in the circus community, calling those involved with the bill “animal rights extremists” that lie about the treatment of circus animals. Though some circuses treat their animals humanely and respectfully, the question of ethics still comes into play.