Don’t pity elephants, who recently were banned from traveling to Hawaii. While they may never get to see the Pacific island paradise themselves … they’re not SUPPOSED TO!
As wild creatures, elephants — along with bears, crocodiles, lions, tigers, and other “dangerous” animals — belong in the wild, not traveling (as noted by Humane Society President and CEO Kitty Block in her blog) as performers in “circuses, carnivals and other public exhibitions.”
The Executive Board of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture voted last month in favor of a proposal to prohibit dangerous wild animals coming to the state as part of traveling shows, by a 6-3 vote. Now it just needs the signature of Governor David Ige, and the law would be among the strictest in the U.S.
Ige would seem to be inclined to sign the bill, given that, in 2015, he “pledged to discontinue the issuance of permits to ship exotic animals across the Pacific Ocean to be used for outdated and inhumane exhibitions,” according to a different Humane Society report.
The new Hawaii law, if passed, should resonate particularly with state residents. Hawaii was the scene of one of the most gruesome displays of violence involving elephants ever captured on video when, in 1994, an elephant named Tyke “killed her trainer and mauled another animal handler shortly before a performance for the Great American Circus.”
The elephant then left the venue (the Blaisdell Arena), whereupon she was chased by law enforcement officers through city streets. “Hawaii and the world watched on the news the terrible fate that befell Tyke, as she was killed in a hailstorm of bullets on the streets of Honolulu.”
“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,” said Keith Dane, Hawaii policy adviser for the Humane Society of the United States. “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.”
Hawaii is not alone in addressing the issue. 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, notes the Humane Society.
And it was a year ago this Friday that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Elephant Protection Act, a bill that outlaws the use of elephants in circuses. That occurred a few months after the state’s biggest city, New York, similarly prohibited the use of wild animals in circus acts.
There will be certain exceptions to the new law, if passed, reports KITV island news: wild animals imported for commercial filming in television or movies and in government zoos.