Hawaii is working to become the first state in the United States to outlaw the use of wild animals in circus performances and other forms of entertainment. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture unanimously approved a proposed change last week that would define “dangerous wild animals” and prevent the importing of animals for performances in “public entertainment shows such as circuses, carnivals, and state fairs.” The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been working to pass this ruling since October 2014 when they first petitioned the Department of Agriculture, which has the authority to approve permits for the wild animals. The next step in the process for the ruling is a statewide public hearing likely to happen after the holidays. The proposal includes animals such as big cats, primates, elephants, bears, and crocodiles, though currently marine mammals are not included. Film producers and zoos are exempt from the ruling right now, but HSUS is pushing for exemptions for only zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). There are 46 municipalities in the US that have some type of restriction or ban on wild animals in entertainment—Hawaii would be the first state with a ban.
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