Bullhooks, or elephant goads, are short poles with a sharp hook on the end used by some elephant handlers to control the elephant. Oakland has proposed a bullhook ban because the implements are designed to cause pain, and are sometimes used to beat elephants rather than communicate with them.

The ordinance in Oakland, presented by councilmembers Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo, would also prohibit the use of a pitchfork, axe handle, or a sharpened goad known as an ankus to control or inflict pain on elephants. 1

Ringling Brothers Circus has threatened to stop visiting Oakland if such a ban goes into effect. The Los Angeles City Council passed a similar ban in 2013. Oakland passed legislation in 2013 to improve safety at circuses, but stopped short of a bullhook ban.

The Oakland Zoo previously used bullhooks on its elephants, until an elephant grabbed a bullhook and killed its trainer in 1992. Now the zoo uses treats and other positive reinforcement, and is in favor of the bullhook ban. 1

Links and References

  1. Oakland committee to vote on ban of bullhook use on elephants Oakland North December 2, 2014