OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – There won’t be elephants at an upcoming circus in Owensboro after all.

In December, we reported that The Spectacular Circus was coming to Owensboro. Information from the circus said Asian elephants would be part of the event. A spokesperson for the Carden International Circus tells us the original information was incorrect and no elephants will be at the circus.

Recently enacted rules from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources make it illegal for circuses to use endangered species in circuses. The Asian elephant is on the endangered species list.

The circus says its event on January 25 will still have presentations of horsemanship from the Cossack Riders, hair-hanging aerial dancers, foot juggling feats and nine contortionists.

Officials with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources issued a statement as to why Asian elephants couldn’t be in circuses that come to Kentucky:

An existing state regulation, 301 KAR 2:082, has recently been amended (and is currently in the process of being amended further) that does restrict the importation of certain exotic species. These species have been identified as either environmentally injurious or inherently dangerous. The inherently dangerous list, among other things, does include Asian elephants. It is found in 301 KAR 2:082, Section 4(2).

The Commissioner of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife may grant an exemption for the possession or transportation of those species identified as inherently dangerous to certain entities. One type of entity that may receive an exemption is lawfully operated circuses. This exemption, however, is restricted to those circuses that are only importing, transporting into Kentucky, or possessing species that are not federally endangered as listed in the current Endangered Species Act list. (The proposed amendment to 301 KAR 2:082 specifically provides the reference number to the federal regulation that lists endangered and threatened species, 50 CFR 17.11.). The limitation for endangered species was recently added to comply with KRS 150.183. KRS 150.183 strictly limits the grounds for which exceptions may be granted for the importation of endangered species.

Asian elephants are listed as federally endangered and therefore a commissioner’s exemption may not be granted under 301 KAR 2:082 for a circus to import Asian elephants.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources