A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Oct 18, 2013

CALL TO ACTION - Los Angeles City Council To Vote To Ban Bullhooks

UPDATE - The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban bullhooks in Los Angeles - but it will be phased in over 3 years.

On October 23rd, the Los Angeles City Council will consider banning the use of bullhooks when handling an elephant. Though it is my preference that all exotic animals be banned from circuses and other such exhibitions - I am happy to start here.

Courtesy Google Images

A bullhook is a heavy rod with a pointy sharp metal tip and a hook at the end, often referred to as a “guide”, which may be used to prod, hook, jab or hit an elephant in order to “train” him/her to perform circus tricks or other such things. These instruments are capable of causing lacerations, punctures, and great pain when used with force, particularly on an elephant’s extremely sensitive trunk. The assertion that the use of the bullhook is just an extension of a trainer's arm and rarely leaves a mark is nonsense. If that were so it wouldn't need a sharp point and hook to persuade the elephant to something.  Further, if it were used to only strike but not tear it would also be abusive as it would be analogous to repeatedly smacking someone in the face during a walk to ensure that he or she gets somewhere on time. The constant smacking may not leave a mark – but – it surely would be horrible to endure. Experts have stated that the association with a bullhook is so frightening that elephants who have not seen one in years will visibly respond to the mere sight of one.

Notwithstanding the fact that the more enlightened perspective is to leave such animal “entertainment” in the annals of history, or change our acceptance of what would under other circumstances amount to repeated acts of animal cruelty, an outright ban of the use of bullhooks in Los Angeles is an excellent first step. 

Bullhook Courtesy Google Images
Let’s keep our elephants safe, free of pain, and away from those who would abuse or exploit them. 

Please contact your councilperson  and politely urge them to vote for this ban and, come to City Hall on Wednesday and tell them again.

Thank you

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