Dangerous wild animal ban could mean the end of EK Fernandez

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Going to the fair to watch wild animal acts is a thing of the past. The state today banned carnivals and fairs from bringing the animals into Hawaii. The president of EK Fernandez said Tuesday’s decision could mean the end of the 115-year-old company.

The ruling by the state department of agriculture board comes three years after Governor David Ige pledged to ban wild animals from being brought into Hawaii for carnivals and fairs.

Lions, tigers and bears no more. They are three of the five dangerous animals now banned from being brought to Hawaii for fairs and carnivals.

“These dangerous animals coming into our state present a lot of risks, human health, environment, there’s just so many risks so i think over time we’ve started to come to terms with that. this is not the best activity to invite into the state, ” said Jessica Wooley, with the Humane Society of the United States.

Alligators and elephants are also included in the ban, which does not prevent wild animals from being brought in for films or the zoo.

EK Fernandez president and CEO Scott Fernandez strongly opposed the ruling.

“If they are taking about our safety record…our safety record is without blemish,” Fernandez said.

Public safety issues were among the concerns and several who testified mentioned the tragedy of Tyke the elephant who killer her trainer in August 1994, then rampaged down Ward Avenue injuring several others before being shot 84 times by police. Tyke was brought in by Circus International of Hawaii for a performance at the Neil Blaisdell Center.

The ban supports Governor David Ige’s 2015 pledge to stop giving permits to carnival acts that bring wild animals to Hawaii.

The six to three vote in favor of the ban could drastically impact EK Fernandez Shows.

“It’s hard to really determine what’s going to happen to EK Fernandez Shows.  This is a big blow…Ringling Brothers is no longer available to the public and I fear that’s what’s going to happen to EK Fernandez Shows,” Fernandez said.

The Humane Society of the United States said Hawaii is now the first state to take this step in banning dangerous wild animals from transport in this way. There are other cities and countries also moving in the same direction.

The ban will officially go into effect 10 days after Governor Ige signs it. No word on when that will be.

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