Los Angeles Bans Use of Bullhooks on Circus Elephants

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed an ordinance banning the use of bullhooks on circus elephants.

The sharp-ended tool used to train and control elephants will be illegal for handlers within city limits after a 3-year phase-in period.

"(Elephants) are trained and guided with bullhooks, which are used to inflict pain upon them and sometimes cut them when they're hit," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "We really want to change that. We think it's a very cruel practice."

The ban on bullhooks, however, effectively means that many circuses, traveling shows and other events that feature elephants will not be able to perform anywhere in the city, because the device is commonly used among handlers.

A spokesman for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, which features elephants in their annual appearances at Staples Center, said the ban was being driven by animal rights activists who want to force the circus out of the city.

According to the spokesman, 100,000 families were in attendance when the circus made a stop in L.A. last year.

In addition to bullhooks, the ban includes baseball bats, axe handles and pitchforks.

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