Lawmakers in Oakland, California, are considering a ban on bull hooks, a move that would prevent Ringling Bros. from bringing its circus elephants to that city. Bull hooks are weapons used to inflict pain on elephants in order to keep them submissive and obedient.
Four of eight Council Members in Oakland are poised to vote in favor of outlawing bull hooks. One member told the press, “We’re not going to look the other way when it comes to torturing animals.”
A spokesperson for Ringling, who describes bull hooks as “USDA-approved husbandry tools,” says that the circus cannot have elephants without them and will not come to Oakland at all if they cannot bring elephants, feeding into the concerns expressed by some Council Members about the economic impact of a ban.
In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council passed a law banning bull hooks that takes effect in 2017. The lawmakers made their decision after viewing PETA’s undercover footage of Ringling trainers attacking elephants with bull hooks.
In addition to being beaten, elephants and other wild animals forced to perform in circuses, are deprived of the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them and are forced to travel in small boxcars on trains for days at a time while traveling between cities.
The use of elephants in circuses has already been banned in Bolivia, Peru, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Paraguay, Columbia, the Netherlands. A ban in the United Kingdom goes into effect in 2015.