New Jersey just became the first state to prohibit circuses from using wild animals. Hawaii has already followed in its footsteps, barely a week later.
On Friday, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed legislation prohibiting the importation and employment of hazardous wild animals in circuses, carnivals, and other forms of entertainment, including tigers, lions, bears, elephants, crocodiles, and primates. Animal welfare groups are ecstatic that two states have enacted robust animal protection legislation.
In a statement, Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), stated, “These improvements in Hawaii and New Jersey have been a long time coming.” “Wild animals employed in traveling exhibitions are kept in suffocating conditions in unventilated vans and trailers for months at a time while they are transported from place to location. Elephants are chained or confined to tiny enclosures when they are not performing, while large cats are housed in transport cages that are scarcely bigger than the animals themselves. The animals are frequently denied appropriate exercise, veterinary treatment, or even consistent food and water.”
It is very typical for circus animals to be abused on a regular basis. Trainers would whip and beat them to force them to do tricks, using fear and pain to coerce them into obedience. While majority of this abuse occurs behind closed doors during training sessions, trainers have also been known to strike animals during live performances.
After what happened to Tyke, an elephant employed in a Honolulu circus in 1994, this news is particularly welcome in the Aloha state. Tyke attacked his trainers during a live performance, then rushed out of the arena and onto the streets, after being beaten and neglected for years. Police pursued Tyke and shot and killed him. This incident’s distressing video can be seen here.
Block stated, “There is just no reason to use wild animals in any sort of live entertainment.” “Thank you, Governor Ige of Hawaii and Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, for closing the year with these historic reforms.”