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California Legislature Gives Approval for Two Landmark Elephant Protection Measures

Gov. Jerry Brown expected to receive measures to ban trade in elephant ivory, use of bullhooks in handling captive elephants

Both chambers of the California legislature have given overwhelming approval to separate measures to protect elephants, with the Senate voting 26 to 13 to put a stop to the ivory trade. That bill, AB 96, championed by Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, previously passed the Assembly, and needs to go back to that chamber for a final concurrence vote. SB 716, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants in circuses and traveling shows, gained final approval yesterday and goes to Governor Brown for his signature (Sen. Lara is also the principal co-author of AB 96). Jennifer Fearing, a lobbyist for The HSUS, led the effort to pass both measures, with Sen. Lara’s bill getting an enormous lift after Ringling Bros. announced in March that it would phase out the use of elephants in its traveling performances.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS issued the following statement:

"This is the year of the elephant in California, with separate measures passing the legislature to halt the inhumane use of bullhooks and to impose a ban on selling any ivory in the state. These are landmark bills and if Governor Brown signs them, California will be the first state on the Pacific coast to crack down so meaningfully on the trade in ivory and to end the use of bullhooks. In their own distinct ways, the trade of ivory and the striking of elephants with bullhooks have caused too much needless suffering for these majestic animals. It’s exciting to be fighting back by securing these policy gains."

AB 96 is supported by The HSUS, Humane Society International, Natural Resources Defense Council, Performing Animal Welfare Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, California Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Oakland Zoo, Asian Pacific Alliance for Wildlife & Sustainability, Born Free USA, International Fund for Animal Welfare and dozens of other organizations and cities. SB 716 is supported by The HSUS, HSI, the Oakland Zoo, the California Association of Zoos & Aquariums, PAWS and dozens of other organizations and cities. 


On June 2, the Assembly passed AB 96 with a 62 to 14 vote. The bill passed the Senate today with a 26 to 13 vote.

On May 22, the Senate passed SB 716 with a 29 to 7 vote. On August 27, the Assembly passed the bill with a 69 to 8 vote.

If made law, SB 716 would take effect two years from January 1, 2016.

Media Contact: Cheylin Parker, cparker@humanesociety.org, 240-599-6848