SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Elephant trainers and handlers will no longer be allowed to use an “archaic” training tool called the bullhook in California after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill banning them on Monday.
Brown signed Senate Bill 1062, a year after vetoing a similar bill. California follows the lead of cities like Oakland and Los Angeles in outlawing devices meant to punish and inflict pain on captive elephants.
The proposal by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, creates civil penalties for individuals caught using the outdated tool and subjects them to having their restricted-species permit revoked by state wildlife officials. The law goes into effect in 2018 and also bans trainers from using baseball bats, ax handles and pitchforks on the animals.
Fines for using the banned devices can swell to $10,000.
“California’s commitment to the humane treatment of elephants is strengthened today,” Lara said in a statement. “Banning bullhooks removes cruel and horrific treatment against these kind, gentle animals.”
The bullhook, or ankus, is typically 2-3 foot long with a jutting and pointed end and has been traditionally used by circus performers to steer and correct elephants. Trainers jab and stick the animals in sensitive areas to create psychological fear of the tool.
After Oakland and Los Angeles voted to ban performers from using the tools, Ringling Brothers Circus also took action by removing elephants entirely from its California performances. County fairs in the Golden State have also uniformly nixed elephant rides, according to lawmakers.
Lara’s bill was supported by animal groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Global Sanctuary for Elephants.
“California has once again demonstrated its commitment to animal protection. This bill aligns the state’s policies with the values of its residents,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said in a statement.
The bill cleared the state Senate 27-10 and the Assembly 65-7, and was signed by Brown without a statement.
Rhode Island is the only other state to have banned the use of bullhooks on elephants.
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