The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Minneapolis City Council for voting unanimously to pass a measure prohibiting the use of bullhooks on elephants in circuses and traveling shows.

Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for The HSUS said: “For too long, elephants in traveling shows have suffered trauma and abuse from handlers wielding the sharp end of a bullhook. We commend the city council and Councilmember Cam Gordon, the amendment’s author, for taking action to protect these highly intelligent and social animals from inhumane and outdated training methods.”

Bullhooks, which resemble fireplace pokers, are used by trainers to strike, jab, prod, pull and hook sensitive spots on an elephant’s body. Elephants are hooked and hit with bullhooks when being trained and prior to performances to instill fear and, in turn, ensure that tricks or other desired behaviors will be performed on command. Bullhooks are also used to punish the animals when they fail to perform as instructed and to control elephants during routine handling. The measure was offered as an amendment by Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2) to the revision of the city’s animal ordinance and will go into effect January 1, 2019.

Council Member Gordon said: “Today Minneapolis joined nearly 50 other American cities that have passed laws protecting captive elephants. Bullhooks are cruel, and the public is clearly no longer willing to tolerate abuse or mistreatment of elephants, whether it happens in sight or behind the scenes. I hope other cities in Minnesota and beyond adopt similar protections for these intelligent and sensitive animals.”