4 min read

Second State Bans Wild Circus Animals

This is huge!

Recently, New Jersey became the first state to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. And now, only a week later, Hawaii has followed in its footsteps.

On Friday, Hawaii Governor David Ige enacted a ban on the importation and use of wild animals that could be dangerous — such as tigers, lions, bears, elephants, crocodiles and primates — in circuses, carnivals and other kinds of performances. Animal welfare advocates are thrilled that two states have taken strong measures to protect animals.

Elephants being forced to perform in circus
Shutterstock

“These reforms in Hawaii and New Jersey have been a long time coming,” Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said in a statement. “Wild animals used in traveling shows are subjected to prolonged periods of extreme confinement in unventilated trucks and trailers as they are hauled from venue to venue for months at a time. When they are not performing, elephants are chained or confined to small pens and big cats are kept in transport cages barely bigger than the animals themselves. The animals are routinely deprived of adequate exercise, veterinary care, or even regular food and water.”

Tiger trapped inside tiny metal cage
Shutterstock

It’s also common for circus animals to be ceaselessly abused. Trainers will whip and beat them to get them to perform tricks, forcing them into submission through fear and pain. While much of this abuse is done during training sessions and hidden from the public, trainers have been known to hit animals during live performances as well.

Trainer standing over circus tigers
HSUS

This news is particularly welcomed in the Aloha state after what happened to Tyke, an elephant used in a Honolulu circus in 1994. After being abused and mistreated for years, Tyke mauled his trainers during a live performance, then raced out of the arena and onto the streets. Tyke was chased by police and eventually gunned down and killed. You can watch the disturbing footage of this incident here.

Tyke, escaped circus elephant being chased by police
Tyke the elephant being chased and shot by police | Facebook/Animal Rights Hawaii

“There is simply no need to involve wild animals in any form of live entertainment,” Block said. “Thank you to Hawaii Governor Ige and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for ending the year with these sweeping reforms.”

To support circus animal rescues and policy changes around the world, you can make a donation to HSUS.