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Hawaii moves one step closer to banning wild animal acts - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

Hawaii moves one step closer to banning wild animal acts

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HONOLULU -

Hawaii is one step closer to bidding Aloha to Wild animal acts. The Board of Agriculture voted 8-0, Tuesday, in favor of sending the new rules which would ban dangerous wild animal acts out to the public for comments. If passed, Hawaii would become the first state to put this type of rule in place.

E.K. Fernandez and circus acts go hand in hand but the potential ban on wild animal performances has the company up in arms.

"In essence you can look at it as an attack on E.K. Fernandez shows," said Donna Smith, Vice President of E.K. Fernandez.

Animal rights groups have been pushing to outlaw wild animal acts in the islands including some of those E.K. Fernandez brings in for the 50th State Fair. Inga Gibson is the Hawaii Director of the Humane Society. Gibson says this issue goes beyond "animal welfare".

"We're talking about dangerous wild animals that are a threat to our communities public health and safety," said Gibson.

Governor David Ige has already pledged to stop granting permits for these types of shows. A majority of Tuesday's testifiers approve his decision and point to what happened with Tyke the Elephant in 1994. The elephant trampled and killed her trainer in the Blaisdell then broke loose and ran through the streets before getting shot to death in public.     

"The Tyke incident proves that performing animal acts can go deathly wrong," said Matt Jisa, a concerned resident.

People pushing for the ban say it's overdue.

"We hope from here on out there will be no more dangerous public interactions performances involving lions, tigers, bears and other dangerous animals," said Gibson.

E.K. Fernandez says it's never had an incident in the past 100 years and it's the only operation in Hawaii that would be affected.

"It's just us and we'd like to continue to be able to do that," said Smith.

Others say they'd be open with more restrictions but not an all out prohibition.

"We simply feel that the broad based complete ban on these animals that are used in these shows are a bit like throwing a baby out with the bathwater," said Chrystn Eads, representing Feld Entertainment.

The Department of Agriculture says once the proposed rules go through the upcoming public comment period, it would then need to get the Governor's approval before being adopted. The Department says the new restrictions for certain wild animals would not apply to zoos nor animals being used to film in movies.

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