Today, a bill by State Senator Ricardo Lara was approved by the State Assembly by a bipartisan vote of 59-7, updating criminal laws protecting elephants from abuse by prohibiting the use of a bullhook or similar devices.
According to a release issued by State Senator Ricardo Lara’s office, the bill is the first such statewide legislation in California to protect elephants against bullhooks.
“Bullhooks are cruel, unnecessary devices that inflict lacerations on elephants and cause scars to their delicate skin,” said Lara in a statement. “Sanctuaries and zoos across the state have [voluntarily] ceased use of these devices opting for safer alternatives. Los Angeles and Oakland have taken a stand and now it’s time for the entire state to say ‘no’ to bullhooks!”
Set to take effect January 1, 2018, the bill SB 716 will amend the existing California Penal Code 596.5, which protects elephants from being deprived of food, water or rest and being subjected to punishment, adding a prohibition against “bullhook, ankus, guide or pitchfork, including the use of those devices without making contact.”
"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in the nation to protect elephants from bullhooks commonly used to handle and abuse elephants in circuses and other outdated facilities," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States in a statement. "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."
Along with SB 716, Lara is sponsoring a bill with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) intended to close a decades-old loophole on the sale of ivory in California, which has allowed illegal trade to flourish while hunting claims elephant lives.