This week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the use of bullhooks on circus elephants. A huge thank you goes to the Care2 members who signed our petition to protect circus elephants. Your voices have been heard, and the nation’s most populous county has finally taken steps to end this unnecessary practice for good.
Bullhooks feature sharp edges and cause considerable harm to elephants, from the emotional (pain and fear) to the physical (bruising and bleeding). For years, circus trainers have used bullhooks to intimidate and beat elephants on the most sensitive parts of their bodies, just so they can perform uncomfortable tricks in front of large crowds.
In addition to the ban on bullhooks, baseball bats, ax handles and pitchforks will also be prohibited under the ordinance the Los Angeles City Council passed by a vote of 13-0.
While the ban is a step in the right direction, bullhooks are not leaving town just yet. The 13-0 City Council vote means that attorneys will begin drafting an ordinance that will enforce the ban following a three-year transition period for circuses and trainers. However, following the transition period, the ban will be thoroughly implemented, and any use of such tools will be illegal.
Unsurprisingly, the circus industry is not taking this development lightly. Industry leaders and trainers view the ban as a nod against circuses and just another instance of animal activists “forcing” the show out of the city. Circuses such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have used bullhooks for years and feel this ban will harm business considerably.
However, the ban is not directed against circuses, but rather, against the tortuous tools used on animals who have been taken out of their natural habitats. Performing circus tricks is by no means natural for elephants or any other animals.
The ban is a success for animal activists, and more importantly, circus elephants in Los Angeles County. This ordinance will be an example for other cities across the nation to follow in order to provide a safer environment for animals everywhere.
Care2 member Kelly Rogers created her petition to advocate for the treatment of elephants in Los Angeles and the world over. If you have a cause that you want to mobilize, you can create your own petition here.
Photo Credit: wolfsard