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LA City Council Votes to Ban Elephant Bullhooks

 
LA City Council Votes to Ban Elephant Bullhooks

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council today voted unanimously to ban the use of bullhooks in wrangling elephants -- a move that could  prevent the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from making a stop here.

Bullhooks are ``cruel and inhumane, and I would love to see the ban go  into effect tomorrow,'' Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said.

The ban, supported by celebrities such as actress Kristen Bell, comedian  Sarah Silverman and singer Ke$ha, will not take effect immediately. The 13-0  City Council vote today starts the process for attorneys to begin drafting an  ordinance, which could include a process for phasing in a ban over a three-year  period.

The ban would also bar the use of baseball bats, pitchforks, ax handles  and other goads used in place of bullhooks.

City Councilman Paul Koretz, who proposed the ban, brought a bullhook to  the council chamber. He said it was ``considered a dangerous weapon'' and  showed his colleagues a video of how they are used on elephants.

Koretz said he investigated the issue with an ``open mind,'' but based  on ``compelling evidence'' from advocates of humane animal treatment, and after  circus representatives failed to meet with him, he decided the hooks needed to  be banned.

Ringling Bros. said the City Council's decision ``effectively bans  circuses from performing with elephants'' in Los Angeles.

``The City Council has taken the extreme step of outlawing the use of  guides, also referred to as 'bullhooks,' which is a critical tool that the  circus needs to present elephants

``Today's decision was unsupported by any evidence or proof of elephant  abuse in Los Angeles, and more importantly, it did not implement any measures  that would improve the welfare of animals. Instead, it will deprive families of  the right to take their children to see live animals at the circus,'' according  to a Ringling Bros. spokesman.

Circuses must also adhere to strict laws against animal abuse and  subject themselves to inspections by the state and the city, the statement  said.

The Ringling Bros. is booked at Staples Center until 2016, according to  circus representatives.

``This is not a vote against circuses,'' Koretz said. ``The circus is  welcome in Los Angeles, just without bullhooks.''

Koretz said the sharp implements -- which resemble walking canes with a  curved spike on one end -- can cause injuries and ``is only effective because  the elephant has been taught to associate it with pain and fear to repeated  poking and prodding to sensitive parts of the body -- sometimes drawing  blood.''

``Times are changing,'' Koretz said. ``We know so much more now about  elephants and their intelligence, sensitivity and emotional natures. We know  they suffer not only physically, but psychology.''

That is why the Los Angeles Zoo, elephant sanctuaries and  ``progressive'' zoos have stopped using the hooks, he said.

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