It’s been more than two decades since Tyke the African elephant burst out of a circus at Blaisdell Center, killing her trainer and injuring her groomer in the process.

Police pumped 80-some bullets into the elephant to bring her down in the streets of Kakaako, where she died as spectators watched in horror.

John Cuneo was the infamous owner of Tyke and over a dozen other elephants the feds eventually confiscated.

Elephant Nature Park

A scene at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, 2009.

Christian Haugen/Flickr

His name and Tyke’s story have resurfaced in testimony to state lawmakers who are considering a bill that would prohibit the display or performance of a wild or exotic animal for commercial purposes.

Dozens of people, animal-rights groups, circuses and even cattlemen are trying to influence Wednesday’s decision on the legislation by the House Consumer Protection Committee, chaired by Rep. Angus McKelvey.

“The bill is just a step down a slippery slope,” rancher Alan Gottlieb wrote. “Today circuses and fairs and tomorrow zoos and aquariums?”

Hawaii Humane Society President Pamela Burns says the bill doesn’t go far enough. The nonprofit is OK with exemptions for accredited zoos but wants the committee to remove an exception for animals that have been in the state for more than 300 days prior to the display or performance.

The Honolulu Zoo, which is accredited now, is worried about what would happen if it ever lost its accreditation. And there are concerns that the Panaewa Hilo in Hilo, which is not accredited, would not be able to display any new animals.

Check out all the testimony on House Bill 1012 here. Track the legislation’s progress here.

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