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New rules prohibit importing dangerous animals for circuses or carnivals in Hawaii


HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige last Friday signed a revised administrative rule that prohibits the importation of dangerous wild animals for exhibition in circuses or carnivals in Hawaii. The amended rules on animal importation were approved by the Hawaii Board of Agriculture (Board) in Sept. 2018 and forwarded to the Governor for final approval. The rules will go into effect 10 days after it is filed with the Lt. Governor’s office.

The amended rules define dangerous wild animals as a non-domestic animal that can cause significant risk to animal and public health. The board determined that animals deemed dangerous included most of the wild cats, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc.; bears; wolves; elephants; rhinoceroses; hippopotamuses; crocodiles and alligators; and non-human primates among others. (See attached rules for full listing) The rule does allow the import of these types of animals for exhibition in government zoos and for filming of television and movies under permit and conditions from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

“The main issue is always public safety and health,” said Gov. Ige. “The concern of exhibiting dangerous animals in an environment where a large number of people may be exposed is significant enough to establish these rules.”

“The decision process on this matter has been a long one with extensive efforts to gather public input,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

The issue of banning wild animals for circuses and carnivals was first heard by the Board in 2014. Although the petition was denied, the Board requested HDOA to conduct further research and the issue went through several public meetings before the final decision was made in Sept. 2018.

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