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Rhode Island becomes first state in nation to ban use of bullhooks on elephants

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a measure into law that bans the use of bullhooks on elephants in circuses and traveling shows in Rhode Island. Sponsored by Patricia Serpa, D-West Warwick, the bill (HB 8197), will make the Ocean State the first in the nation to ban bullhooks, which are used to hit and punish elephants in order to control them. Resembling a fireplace poker, bullhooks cause trauma and injury to elephants.

Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection at The Humane Society of the United States, released the following statement:

“For too long, elephants in traveling shows and circuses have suffered inhumane and cruel treatment by handlers wielding the sharp end of the bullhook. Rhode Island has becomes the first state to take this monumental step to protect these highly intelligent and social animals from inhumane and outdated training methods. We urge other states to follow suit.”

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

Almost 60 jurisdictions across the country have enacted restrictions regarding the use of elephants in circuses as a result of growing public awareness of the inhumane treatment these animals endure. In the past two years, major cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Austin, Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Minneapolis, Minnesota and Spokane, Washington all banned the use of bullhooks on elephants in traveling shows.

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

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