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October 23, 2013

Off the Hook in L.A.

Today, history was made when the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to prohibit the use of bullhooks and other implements that are designed to inflict pain on elephants in circuses and traveling shows. The measure would take effect in three years, covering circuses that use these metal implements as a standard tool in handling the animals.

Bullhooks banned in Los Angeles
Michelle Riley/The HSUS

Most accredited zoos discarded the use of bullhooks years ago in favor of “protected contact” with elephants – where the handlers do not occupy the same physical space as the elephants and do not strike the animals with any implements.

HSUS National Council member Cheri Shankar played a leading role in pushing for the measure. She was joined by other HSUS staff, the Performing Animal Welfare Society, PETA, and representatives of so many other groups that consider the use of bullhooks an anachronism. Actress and comedienne Lily Tomlin joined a room full of Los Angeles residents who were present to show their support for the measure.

We extend our thanks to the council members for their compassionate action, which makes Los Angeles the largest city in the country to ban such inhumane treatment of elephants. We hope that council president Herb J. Wesson is correct that “the winds of change blow west to east” and that other jurisdictions will soon take similar actions to protect elephants from this sort of torment.

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