State votes in favor of banning imported wild animals for carnivals, fairs
Under new rules passed by Hawaii's Board of Agriculture on Tuesday, "wild dangerous animals" will be banned from being shipped to Hawaii for entertainment or performance purposes.
No more lions, tigers or bears at state fairs or carnivals. Those are just some of the animal acts that'll soon become a thing of the past in Hawaii.
On Tuesday, the state's Board of Agriculture voted 6-3 in favor of an amendment banning "wild dangerous animals," also including elephants and alligators, from permanently being shipped to Hawaii for entertainment or performance purposes.
It's been a controversial topic since 1994, after an incident involving Tyke the Elephant. Tyke killed its trainer and ran through the streets of Honolulu, until it was shot dead.
The amendment still requires Governor David Ige's signature. The recent ruling comes almost four years after Ige had pledged not to sign any permits for importing wild animals for exhibits or performances in Hawaii.
"Its been years in the works and I think at this point the issue should be pretty clear," Humane Society of the United States, Jessica Wooley said at Tuesday's board meeting.
Humane Society supports of the ban, citing that it needs to happen for several reasons: animal welfare, public health and human safety.
"There are other ways for us to experience entertainment and we don't need to ship in animals that are dangerous from far away places for a short period of time that are going to expose us to risks-- unnecessary risks," Wooley said.
"There's been a lot of advocacy that's gone into this and we're really happy that the board has taken its stance," Public Policy Advocate for the Hawaiian Humane Society, Stephanie Kendrick added.
Hawaii-based entertainment giant E.K. Fernandez strongly opposed the rule change. Owner, Scott Fernandez says the ban is big blow, since some of its biggest draws will now be off limits.
"If you ban wild animals today you will be banning E.K. Fernandez shows," Owner of E.K. Fernandez, Scott Fernandez said to the Board of Agriculture, on Tuesday.
Addressing the concern of public safety, Fernandez made it a point to mention that his company has no ties to Tyke the Elephant and that it's had zero animal incidents in it's 115-year history. Fernandez feels the real risk is now to his business.
"We fought the good fight that's all you can do. You can't rip the guts out of E.K. Fernandez shows. I mean its E.K. Fernandez show.. not E.K. Fernandez carnivals. We're known for shows and entertainment and if they're not going to allow us to entertain maybe we shouldn't," he added.
Exceptions to the amendment are wild animals imported for commercial filming in television or movies and in government zoos.