The city of Los Angeles approved a ban on the use of bullhooks, bats, pitchforks and other physical tools used by trainers to control exotic circus animals such as elephants.
The move is a victory for animal rights activists who have long campaigned against the use of such devices. Via Reuters:
The ban, passed unanimously by the city council on Wednesday, takes effect in January 2017, a delay meant to give circuses time to change how they handle elephants or remove them from the shows, which draw audiences of 100,000.
Council members said that zoos, including the main one in Los Angeles, have stopped using the spike-tipped bullhooks amid sweeping evidence that they cause physical and psychological harm to elephants and other exotic animals.
Using bullhooks is "inhumane and unhealthy", said city councillor Paul Koretz, who said he voted in favor of the ban after a video was shown to the council that highlighted elephant training tactics and exercises he said were "cruel".
"The circus is welcome in Los Angeles, just without the bullhooks," Koretz said. "We're hoping that they follow the model of other circuses that don't use exotic animals."
A spokesperson for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey called the ban "unnecessary" and suggested it would likely force the cancellation of circus activities in Los Angeles.
As someone pointed out in the comments below, if this ban is really so "unnecessary" then why does Ringling Bros. need to cancel circus activities in Los Angeles? Perhaps this is admission that (as many have speculated during the course of this debate) your practices are so antiquated and gross, the only way you can control these animals is by using barbaric tools such as bullhooks? Because if the ban is really unnecessary, then it ultimately doesn't matter what tools—if any—you use on these animals in order to put on a show.
Celebrities including Kristen Bell had called for a ban on bullhooks last year.
Image via Shutterstock.