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California Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes Bill to Ban Elephant Bullhooks

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed SB 716, a bill that would  have made California the first state to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants in traveling shows and circuses. Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed that Governor Brown did not seize the opportunity to make California the first state in the country to end the abusive use of bullhooks on elephants. Bullhooks are archaic devices – long phased out by elephant managers at California’s accredited zoos –  that are used by a handful of outliers to prod, hook, and strike elephants as a means of training, punishing and controlling them.”

Gov. Brown did not seem to weigh in on the merits of bullhook use, but vetoed SB 716, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and eight other bills that created new crimes. His veto message communicated his broad concern about the bills’ “particularization of criminal behavior,” and appears grounded on his concern about addressing prison overcrowding and sentencing reform.

Gov. Brown has had a sterling record on animal issues, signing legislation to ban hound hunting of bears and bobcats, to stop the trade in shark fins and to outlaw the use of lead ammunition when shooting wildlife.  This is the first obvious blemish on his record.

Pacelle continued: “The Humane Society of the United States and the thousands and thousands of supporters of SB 716 will return to the legislature next year with a version of the legislation that Governor Brown can sign and on the same timetable that SB 716 envisioned. We thank Senator Lara for his humane leadership on this important issue, our partners the Oakland Zoo and the Performing Animal Welfare Society and the vast majority of California lawmakers who favored this measure.”

The Governor has not yet taken action on Assembly Bill 96, a bill authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to close the loophole in California’s decades-old ban on the pernicious ivory trade and to outlaw the trade in rhino horns. The HSUS urges the Governor to sign this bill with global implications for elephants and rhinos.

Media Contact: Naseem Amini, namini@humanesociety.org, 301-548-7793

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