Victory! Elephants Protected from Brutal Bullhook Abuse in California

Victory! Elephants Protected from Brutal Bullhook Abuse in California

On Monday, August 29, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB1062 into law to protect captive elephants from brutal bullhook abuse in California. In Defense of Animals supporters in California helped bring this crucial legislation to the Governor’s desk by making your voices heard through your many phone calls and letters.

Senator Ricardo Lara first introduced the bill in 2015, setting the legislative campaign in motion and though the 2015 bill was vetoed by the Governor, this year’s amended bill won a victory for captive elephants and those who are committed to protecting them.

While our ultimate goal is to end captivity entirely for these majestic and intelligent animals, controlling bullhook abuse and demanding more humane husbandry is a huge step forward for those who live daily in captivity.

The new law states that as of January 1, 2018, captive elephants residing in, or passing through the state of California, will no longer be tormented, controlled, and dominated by the use of the cruel and archaic bullhook.

The bullhook or “ankus” is a steel rod resembling a sharpened fireplace poker. It is used to prod, hook and strike elephants, to dominate and control them through fear, pain and injury. This barbaric device is frequently used by circuses, elephant rides and some zoos.

This new law is an important step in the protection of elephants. We now know so much about these incredible animals and it is a great start to see states like California changing laws to better reflect our growing understanding.

In Defense of Animals elephant scientist, Toni Frohoff, Ph.D. was among the first to welcome the news. She said, “Bullhooks are outdated, barbaric weapons; other methods such as protected contact and positive reinforcement are more humane and ultimately, safer for humans. We applaud the efforts of our associates at the Performing Animal Welfare Society and the Humane Society of the United States, and the Oakland Zoo for cosponsoring the bill, and Senator Ricardo Lara for initiating this momentous change in the State of California. We now encourage other states to update their laws to join the progress being made for elephants.”

California is the second state in the nation, following Rhode Island, to ban this abusive weapon. Los Angeles and Oakland, CA, Richmond, VA; Austin, TX; Spokane, WA; and Minneapolis, MN are among the other major cities that have already banned the bullhook.

San Francisco is one of many cities that has prohibited the use of all wild animal performances, joining over 30 countries that have restricted animals performing in traveling shows. This is the positive direction we are headed in.