Earlier this week, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture board unanimously approved a set of proposed rules that would prohibit the import of exotic wild animals “for exhibition or performance.” This means that Hawaii is set to become the first U.S. state to ban the use of bears, elephants, big cats, and other exotic wild animals for entertainment purposes.
This breaking news is being celebrated by animal rights activists around the globe.
Exceptions to the new rule would be commercial filming for television or movies and within government zoos. Reports World Animal News, the proposal included a ban on elephants, big cats, primates, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, and bears, and hyenas.
Stated Inga Gibson, Hawaii’s senior state director for the Humane Society:
“We’re hoping of course that Hawaii will set an example for other states to take the next step.”
The 1994 documentary “Tkye Elephant Outlaw” reportedly influenced the drafting of the proposal. Its focus is about an elephant that escaped in the Honolulu states and was ultimately shot down by police.
At present, 50 municipalities in 22 U.S. states and several countries have implemented partial or full bans on animals used as entertainment. If this proposal goes through, Hawaii will come the first state to implement the ban.
Says Gibson, the new rules may go into effect as soon as early 2016.
As one might expect, fair and circus advocates are anything but pleased about the news. The Circus Fans Association submitted a written testimony characterizing proponents of the measure as “animal rights extremists” who make false statements in relation to circus animal mistreatment.
While there are, no doubt, circuses and zoos that treat caged animals fairly and with respect, the issue comes down to ethics: Do animals belong in captivity or do they deserve freedom in the wild?
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