Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a measure into law that protects captive elephants in California. Authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-33, Senate Bill 1062 prohibits the use of bullhooks on elephants and goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Resembling a fireplace poker, bullhooks are used by handlers to hit and punish elephants to control them. They are implements of pain that cause trauma and injury to elephants. Both chambers of the California legislature overwhelmingly approved SB 1062, which passed the Senate and Assembly by bipartisan votes of 27 to 10 and 65 to 7, respectively.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States said: "California has once again demonstrated its commitment to animal protection. This bill aligns the state’s policies with the values of its residents.”

Gov. Brown’s signature on SB 1062 makes California the second state in the nation to protect elephants from bullhook abuse, following Rhode Island in July. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus acknowledged that its decision to remove performing elephants from its shows was prompted by the public’s rapidly changing opinion about the use of wild animals for entertainment.

Sen. Lara said: "California's commitment to the Humane treatment of elephants is strengthened today. Banning bullhooks removes cruel and horrific treatment against these kind, gentle animals."

Ed Stewart, president and co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, which cares for eight elephants at its California sanctuary, said: “By its very design, the bullhook is meant to inflict pain and instill fear. The use of this archaic and inhumane weapon on elephants—a species that is self-aware, intelligent and emotional—is abhorrent. PAWS thanks California legislators and Gov. Brown for leading the way and providing elephants with the respect and protection they deserve.”

Joel Parrot, DVM, president and CEO of Oakland Zoo said: “We thank Sen. Lara for championing SB 1062. Oakland Zoo is proud to have been part of the passionate team that succeeded in prohibiting bullhook use in the City of Oakland and we’re thrilled to now see it banned throughout the state. California zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums no longer use bullhooks on elephants. Instead, we rely on modern training and positive reinforcement techniques that have existed for more than twenty-five years.”

SB 1062 is supported by the HSUS, Humane Society International, HSVMA, the Oakland Zoo, the California Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Performing Animal Welfare Society, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, along with dozens of organizations, conservationists, veterinarians, elephant trainers and entertainment industry leaders.


  • SB 1062 takes effect January 1, 2018.
  • Last year, the legislature passed a similar bill, which passed by a wide margin in both the Senate and the Assembly but was vetoed by Gov. Brown. SB 1062 addresses the Governor’s concerns about creating new crimes. Specifically, violators of the prohibition would be subjected to a civil fine and possible permit revocation.
  • California further demonstrated its commitment to elephant protection last year by enacting Assembly Bill 96, closing a loophole in the state’s decades-old ivory trade ban.

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