Nation’s First Statewide Bill to Ban the Use of Bullhooks Heads to Governor

August 31, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA — A bill by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to update California’s criminal laws protecting elephants from abuse by prohibiting the use of a bullhook or similar devices now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration after a bipartisan 28-8 concurrence vote in the State Senate. The bill would become the nation’s first statewide ban on bullhooks. 

“Let’s call it what it is: a bullhook is a weapon used to harm elephants and they have no place in California,” said Senator Lara “I thank my senate colleagues for their bipartisan support of Senate Bill 716 and urge the Governor to take decisive action against these cruel, unnecessary devices by signing this measure into law. It’s time to ban the bullhook!”

SB 716 proposes to amend California Penal Code Sec 596.5, which already protects elephants from being deprived of food, water, or rest and being subjected to physical punishment, among other abuses. SB 716 would add an explicit prohibition on the use of “bullhook, ankus, guide or pitchfork, including the use of those devices without making contact.” This provision would take effect January 1, 2018. 

"The California legislature is poised to be the first in the nation to protect elephants from bullhooks commonly used to handle and abuse elephants in circuses and other outdated facilities," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "This bill passed with bipartisan support and it builds in a dramatic way on the March announcement from Ringling Bros. that it would phase out the use of elephants in traveling acts."