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Rhode Island poised to ban use of bullhooks on elephants

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill which will end the use of bullhooks on elephants in travelling shows and circuses.  Bullhooks are commonly used by elephant handlers to train, punish and control elephants. This bill, HB 8197 (Rep. Serpa), was previously passed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and awaits transmission to the Governor for signing. Once signed, the bill will make Rhode Island the first state in the country to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants in traveling shows and circuses.

Bullhooks resemble fireplace pokers and have a sharp metal hook and spiked tip. They are used to hit or press against elephants’ sensitive areas with in order to control them.

Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for The Humane Society of the United States said: “For too long, elephants in traveling shows and circuses have suffered as a consequence of unceasing transport and frequent bullhook abuse by handlers wielding the sharp end of the metal hook.  Rhode Island has taken a monumental step to protect these highly intelligent and social animals from inhumane and outdated training methods.”

The HSUS applauds Rep. Patricia Serpa, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Rep. Joe Shekarchi, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Gov. Gina Raimondo for their efforts in ensuring the passage of this bill.

Media Contact:
Anna West: 240-751-2669, awest@humanesociety.org

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