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Board moves forward on proposal to ban wild animal imports

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The Hawaii Board of Agriculture voted unanimously today to move forward on rules that would would ban wild animals from being brought to Hawaii for use in circuses and fairs, above the objections of advocates for the circus industry and to accolades from animal rights supporters who recalled the tragic death of Tyke, the circus elephant that was mowed down in a hail of bullets on a Kakaako street in 1994.

The rules will now go through a public hearing process before going back to the Agriculture Board for approval and decision-making by Gov. David Ige.

Public hearings will likely be held on all of the islands in January, said Scott Enright, who chairs the Agriculture Board. He said he hoped the process would be completed by April.

The rules, as they are currently proposed, ban almost two dozen animals, ranging from bears and lions to the lesser-known gavial, a long-nosed, fish-eating crocodile, that have been deemed potentially dangerous to the public. Government-run zoos and the film and television industry are currently exempt from the ban.

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