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Win a Bullhook (You Heard That Right)

Written by PETA | May 7, 2010

My sister has always written letters and signed petitions about animal issues, but all it took for her to become a full-out anti-circus campaigner was for me to bring home a bullhook from the PETA office for her to see and touch. The sheer ugly menace of this standard elephant training tool really hit her (not literally!). As she put it, “The thought of elephants getting beaten and hooked with this sadistic weapon makes me sick.”




Seasoned activists are already familiar with these heavy, metal-tipped, fireplace poker–like devices, which circuses like Ringling use to break elephants and keep them afraid to move an inch without permission. And now you have a chance to get your hooks on one. Leave a comment telling us how having a real bullhook would help you educate people about the abuse of elephants in circuses, and you’ll be in the running to win one to use in your local campaigns and anti-circus demonstrations!

The person who leaves the most motivated comment will win this ghastly weapon for his or her own show-and-tell educational efforts. The contest ends on May 14, 2010, and we’ll announce the winner on May 18, 2010. Be sure to read our privacy policy and terms and conditions, as you’re agreeing to both by submitting. And please remember, let our Action Team know when the circus is coming to your area so that we can work together to plan a demonstration and get the word out.

Good luck!

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • marz says:

    If I had a bullhook, I would display it where ever possible, especially at zoos and circuses….to teach others what it is, what it is used for and why it is inhumane and is not at all necessary when elephants have bonded w/ a human.

  • Debbie Dominick says:

    I have cried for Elephants for 40 years now…ever since I saw pictures of the first one’s they brought over here, hoisting them off of huge ships, my God they must of been terrified…These animals are Social, family loving, in life-time relationships, not to mention their miles of journey every year and not being allowed to live their life doing these things is sooo cruel…Let them be free to go live in Sanctuary’s, they don’t deserve to go on living their lives like prisoners…As a matter of fact Prisoner’s are treated better than these innocent beings…Put an end to it now, no more going to Circuses with live animals and no more Elephants’ in Zoos…Come on People we can do this…You are helping wonderful fellow Earthlings…

  • John D says:

    Thank you all for writing about Ringling at the LI Children’s Museum. We blanketed everyone there with literature this year. Immensely successful. Thank you for your support. I wish I had one of these last week.

  • Patricia McEachern, Ph.D. says:

    To those of you who want to use a bullhook for demonstration purposes: Please be careful where you take it because you could be arrested. Elephant trainers call it a “tool” inside of a circus. The police call it a “weapon” outside of the circus. Just be aware. I asked a police officer what he would do if someone carried a bullhook around in the mall. He told me that he would cuff her, take her to jail, and ask questions later.

  • Patricia McEachern, Ph.D. says:

    I have been actively seeking a bullhook to show students in all five of our classes for our new Animal Studies Minor at Drury University, made possible by the one and only Bob Barker. Too bad I missed the contest. If you read this and can tell me how I can acquire one (not too expensively), I will be most grateful. At the moment, I use a fireplace poker and photos to get the message across. Students are SHOCKED. Their faces say it all. But they have the courage to look, and that makes me very proud of them. The real thing would make a far greater impact. Thanks! Terrific contest.

  • Animal Liberation Now says:

    Since many of us who are in need of a bull hook for upcoming demos can you please provide us with the purchasing information for a billhook. At least one of these should be available for circus attendees viewing at every circus that uses them.

  • Mary J says:

    I would just like to add that an elephants skin is one inch thick at the thickest and in other ares it is paper thin.

  • Mary J says:

    John J apparently you have never seen the undercover video of a circus “trainer” sinking the bullhook deep into an elephants skin while the elephant trumpeted in pain and tried to break free from it’s restricting chains to get away from the trainer. Watch that think about it and tell me that it doesn’t hurt those elephants.

  • AmberJewel says:

    I feel as though some people that commented on this post did it in order to state how they feel about the bullhooks. About how it doesnt puncture the skin and ohit doesnt hurt the sensitive skin of the elephants. Well i bet most of you are clueless. No of course i don’t know not a thing about bullhooks but since im only seventeen doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a say in a topic this broad. I’m not gulliable enough to believe that bullhooks don’t wound innocent animals. THERE HAS TO BE A REASON THAT THE ANIMALS ARE TERRIFIED OF PREVIOUS BEATINGS.

  • Sue says:

    If I won a bullhook I would use it at the Ringling and other circus demonstrations I will be attending to educate the public regarding the cruelty to circus animals especially the elephants. I would allow people to view the item and touch it while it remains in my hands while educating them about how the bullhook is used to abuse elephants so that they perform tricks in the circus shows as we show undercover footage of the elephants being abused while being taught to conform to do tricks for the circus shows. On a display behind myself and the bullhook I would have statements with photos such as “Elephants perform circus tricks out of fear.” and “The 1 Reason to give your money to the Elephant Sanctuaries instead of the circus” with a list of alternative things to do instead of going to the circus. I hope I win this bullhook to raise awareness of animal cruelty within the circus to decrease ticket sales at the circus and eventually eliminate the cicuses with animals.

  • Lauren says:

    At a zoo that I volunteer at over the summer I’ve seen bullhooks used HUMANELY! In other words the bullhooks hardly had any contact with the elephants they were used as guiding tools. Come on Ringling!! You DON’T need to use bullhooks to beat swing and tear at elephants just to make them do a trick!

  • carol says:

    So who won the bull hook?

  • Brian D says:

    I would bring it to the Circus kidnap a few of the elephant trainers… and use the bullhook to teach them ridiculous tricks and stunts! No but really they should all be punished.

  • John J says:

    Kiki I’m not a 10 ton animal with skin that is nine inches thick.The bullhook to an elphant would be like using a tooth brush on a human. Its used to prode not injury.

  • Kayla says:

    This would help me teach people about Ringling’s cruelty because it gives them the actually weapon they use to see and touch and imagine the pain it inflicts on these poor elephants. It would definitely help change peoples minds if I had this to teach them about. I will be at a protest against Ringling on May 26th at the Giant Center in Hershey PA and this would be so amazing to have because I could be like “Hey the elephants you’re are about to go pay to see are beaten with this very tool just so they will perform for you not very nice huh?”. I think it would help so many people not go.

  • Kiki says:

    Wonder if John J would feel any differently if it was him they used. The Bullhook on? I would call Indy’s Ch 6 call for help team w Raphael Sanchez in on a rally to exploite this barbaric poker stick on natiolal TV. And protest any TV station that ran advertising for them then I would Bring in the rescue group I work with rescue all the Elephants give them medical care food lots of luv. And keep all of them until a 4 ever home is found . Or they choose to stay w me 4 ever.

  • Vic G. C. says:

    I’D GIVE THOSE ELEPHANT ABUSERS A PIECE OF MY MIND AND SHOW ‘EM WHO’S BOSSjust kidding I wouldn’t actually use the bullhook on the elephant abusers but if it were legal… good lord I would do it. Anyway until then I’d preserve the bullhook in a glass box and adorn it with the “Cruelty is Not Entertainment” leaflet. Also info about its usage in animal circuses. The box would be carefully transported to various antianimalcircus demonstrations whenever necessary. Until beating an elephant abuser with a bullhook is legal which may or may not be unlikely I will keep it sealed in said glass box and make sure no one uses it to harm any animal not just elephants.

  • joey gonzalez says:

    i would start a group and educate them about whats happening behind the scenes at circuses and then travel to different school and functions to also educate people that what they see on stage they think is amazing but what happens back stage is horrific . as a young boy i use to love seeing circuses but now when i see that a circus is coming to town i fell the pain that all the animals must be feeling . i wish i couls tie the trainers up and see how they like being poked with a bull hook and stunned with electric probs.

  • laura reyna says:


  • Ceal Guilbault says:

    I hope to win this Bull Hook becasue i would like to give this to my daughter who is a part of WA Circus Demos Shriners Ringling and Ban the Bull Hooks in Everett. I am so proud of her trying to stop this cruel practice and I know she has been trying to find a BH for many months so she can be more effective when demonstrating and educating children.

  • Linda Camac says:

    The elephant being an intelligent sensitive animal suffers not just from a prod with a bullhook but with the message behind the prod. These magnificent animals not unlike us have been shown to suffer anxiety and depression in a hostile captive situation. In the wild they would roam for 30 miles a day with their companion elephants. In a circus there is nothing natural to them and no chance to behave as they need to behave. Instead they are made to do stupid tricks and constantly travel on trains and trucks chained at the ankle to one another. How would you feel if another species captured you tore you away from your family trained you by yelling and sounding horns and prodding you will bullhooks and worse. Traveled until you were exhausted and were made to perform in front of this alien species. Animals are not sharing our Earth to entertain us they are entitled to a their life lived without fear of man.

  • Nancy Pennington says:

    Our group Ban the Bullhook really wants to win a bullhook. We’ve been demonstrating at Ringling performances in Everett WA for years and decided we’d attempt to convince the Everett City Council to institute a ban on bullhooks in Everett stressing that we don’t want to ban the circus just these cruel instruments of torture. When I spoke to the city council coordinator and explained that we wanted to meet with council members she had no idea what a bullhook is. “Something to do with fishing?” she asked. This is going to be a really difficult job convincing council members to ban bullhooks which of course will keep Ringling from performing in Everett. We need all the “ammunition” we can get and want to be able to have council members hold an actual bullhook after seeing Peta’s very effective video. We can also use it in our demonstrations against circuses in Kent Washington and in educating people especially kids about the torture of circus elephants.

  • Carol Guilbault says:

    This would be a dream come true to win this bull hook! I have been searching high low for one of these brutal beauties…I participate in many circus demos a year in WA and nothing can be more powerful than having one these bull hooks in my hand. There is a shelf waiting in my living room to keep this Bull Hook safe Shiny. I would name her after one of the Ringling Elephants!

  • Alyne Fortgang says:

    When we meet with a city council member I want to put a bullhook in his hands while letting him know that an elephant can feel a mosquito bite.

  • Maru Vigo says:

    This bullhook could be useful not only during demos but at every chance we can get. People always like to see real objects therefore this instrument will become the living proof of the abuse the elephants must endure. I specially would like to use it in demo we organize internationally. Pass info with one hand and show it to the public with the other. Nobody will be able to deny the abuse and cruelty after seeing it.

  • ves gottlieb says:

    As a mom I urge you to write to Long Island Children’s Museum Let them know that Ringling Bros. uses this bull hook on there elephants. Ms. Maureen Mangan Public Relations LICM 11 davis ave garden city NY 11530 and let them know you do not want them to let the baby elephants of ringling bros. walk by there museum in March. The circus Teaches sends the wrong message to children. Animals are not there for our amusement. Bull Hooks are a cruel tool of the circus trade are used on baby elephant. Thank you a concerned mom happy mother’s day to all moms! best ves

  • ves gottlieb says:

    On mother’s Day I urge you all to write tell Long Island Children’s Museum not to sponsor a baby elephant walk put on by Ringling Bro in March Ms. Mangan LICM Public Relations 11 davis ave garden city ny 11530 exec. director Erik Schurink There are other animal free circuses available to use peta has a super list which I mailed to them both. I urged them as a mom to watch any utube video of how elephants especially babt ellies are trained pls put pressure on LIMC to reaseach the circus. thank you! Ves concerned Mom

  • Tom M. says:

    Seeing is believing. In the back of my mind I always had an idea that circus’ were not the best of places for any animal inlcuding elephants. Last summer when I saw PETA’s video from an undercover investigation of one of Ringling’s touring units I was horrified by what was documented. Indeed seeing is believing. You cannot deny what you see in the footage. You cannot deny that it was nothing short of animal cruelty. How would having a real bullhook help me educate people about the abuse of elephants in the circus? As I have already said seeing is believing. To have a bullhook in my possession would allow me to provide those around me with an up close and personal harmless encounter with the bullhook available before their very own eyes. They will be able to see what the elephants see they will be able to feel the weight and cold metal tip of the tool that is used to strike jab and yank the elephants in sensitive areas of their bodies such as behind their ears beneath their chin and on their legs wherever the skin is thin. Being able to examine this barbaric tool in their own hands will humble those who I show it to like it humbles the battered and broken elephants in Ringling’s circus and other circuses as well. Having a bullhook people can hold in their own two hands will personalize the experience physically and emotionally instead of having to imagine what the bullhook is like from pictures. A physically present bullhook will result in full sympathy and enlightenment from those it is shared with on the savage treatment elephants endure on a daily basis while alive in captivity with the circus. No elephant is exempt from the bullhook. The bodies of calves middleaged and oldaged elephants are all subjected to the intimidation as well as physical mental and emotional harm that is the sole purpose of the bullhook. If I have a bullhook I will give it a new purpose it will NEVER touch another animal and will instead be used to tell the horror stories of what continues to go on today in a socalled civilized enviornment.

  • helen says:

    Elephants are intelligent graceful animals that should not be mstreated. The treatment elephants get is wrong especially when the animal needs to be respected. Elephants and other animals didnt ask for the abuse.. Please stop abusing animals…

  • Johanna says:

    This is heart breaking. It’s true though if people could actually SEE what is being used on these innocent creatures then hopefully then…they would change their minds. I like the idea of taking it to the Ringling protests so people can see what violence is used against these creatures in order to get them to perform the way in which these people are paying to see them perform. ARGH!

  • Weston says:

    It’s one thing to just tell someone about the abuse but to show them videos and then show what was used up close and personal. I would think it shake someone to their core.

  • Savannah says:

    My sisters school is thinking about having a feild trip to a circus. Were both vegitarians and againsed any forms of animal abuse. we agreed if the school decides to go on the feildtrip she would the bullhook and an elephant stuffed animal to demonstrate to teachers and staff why they shouldent go to the circus for a feild trip.

  • Aneliese says:

    If I had this bullhook I would buy a toy elephant and try to make it do tricks in front of everyone at an animal circus.

  • Jenn F. says:

    JohnJ Have you checked out the video on It shows elephants getting whipped by bullhooks. Several times the elephants can be head crying out in what I think is pain. Elephants have very sensitive skin. They can be seen in the wild throwing sandmud on their backs to protect them from sunburn. Besides the animal should not have to obey. Elephants and other wild animals are not here for our entertainment.

  • Amy M. says:

    JohnJ I don’t know where you are getting your info but the bullhook is not blunt it’s sharp. Again I suggest you read the Ringling transcripts which have detailed descriptions of wounds resulting from bullhook use.

  • Allie says:

    John I think you might be missing the point. The reason the trainer can get reaction from using the bullhook is still the same negative stimulus. painetc That alone should be enough to think the idea of using them is unacceptable. I completely understand another perspective but pointing out how something else could cause more damange is not really relevant.

  • John J says:

    The elphants hide is very tough. Yes they feel pain but not from blunt objects and their pain is not the same as humans. In the wild animals often use nudges kicks even bites to force actions from another. Imagine a kick or strike from an elephant it would devastate a person but barely cause a mark on another elephant. So the strikes from a human against an elephant could hardly compare and would not inflict severe pain or damage. It is more to cause the animal to obey not injury them. Just another perspective.

  • Amy M. says:

    Every year when Ringling comes to town I attend the elephant POW march from the train to the arena where they’ll perform. I would LOVE to have a bullhook to show all the families who come out to watch with no idea of what goes on behind the scenes and explain how it’s used. JohnJ Where did you do your research? Bullhooks absolutely pierce the skin leaving wounds that can turn into infected boils. Trainers insert the hook into elephants’ ears and pull and use them on various spots on the elephants’ bodies such as under the chins and behind their ears places that can be hard for spectators to see leaving bloody wounds. They use a gray substance called Wonder Dust to cover them up. I suggest you widen your research by googling “Ringling trial transcripts” which will take you to not only the transcripts from last year’s federal trial but also the exhibits. Look at those and then see if you still think bullhooks don’t pierce the skin. Oh and elephants’ skin is thick but so sensitive they can feel a fly bite.

  • Michael Filippone says:

    I would take it to the legislator’s office and see if they would let me in the building with it. When the cops and security stop me everyone will be forced to acknowledge the inhumane torture that happens at the circus. Maybe then we can put a stop to it.

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    JohnJ Bullhooks easily puncture the skin. We documented a bloody quartersized wound behind an elephant’s ear after a Ringling trainer struck her with a bullhook. We have documents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture citing circuses for lacerations resulting from bullhook use. We have internal documents from Ringling in which the circus’s own staffers discuss how elephants bled on the arena floor after being struck poked and prodded with bullhooks. And even when the devices don’t draw blood they still cause elephants lots of pain.

  • Rachel A says:

    John That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt the elephants they are very sensitive animals. Tests have shown that they are selfaware and form lifelong bonds with other elephants. They have many and complex needs which are thoroughly frustrated in a circus environment. What we gain from watching them perform unnatural tricks is sickeningly insignificant when considered beside the price the elephants pay. Please if you care about animals at all don’t attend animalusing circuses.

  • Warren says:

    Back in junior high I took a metal shop class and loved making tools I would never use like cool boxes out of sheet metal a small hand saw and the crown jewel of it all was a small hammer. As fun as it was to forge metal and pound red hot iron into something cool I’m aghast at the creation of the bullhook. I would keep it prominently displayed and show it all my friends especially my family with many young cousins and siblings so they know the grim reality of socalled “entertainment.” It would force people to see the living testament of abuse for all animals trapped in misery solely for human gain.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    JohnJ They bullhooks obviously have a “disciplinary” effect or the socalled trainers wouldn’t use them. It stands to reason the elephants feel somethingpain most likelyeven if their skin isn’t pierced.

  • Kathy says:

    “SHOW and TELL” That is how I would educate people on what really goes on behind the scenes at a circus. I would SHOW the bullhook let people touch and feel it and then TELL how it is used to “train” elephants in circuses. I feel that if people can see for themselves how barbaric a bullhook really is and how it is really used on innocent elephants then I have done my small part in educating people on circus cruelty.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    My husband and I are square dancers and I had an idea recently for a PETA demonstration against Ringling. The idea is for a group of dancers from our club to dance at a demonstration while wearing circus animal costumes. Our caller would be dressed as the ringmaster. While traditional circus music is blaring over the loudspeaker he would be using a microphone to call our formations commanding our moves while holding out the bullhook for all to see in his other hand. Meanwhile some PETA protesters would be standing on the sidelines with signs reading “Humans do not need to use animals for entertainment! We can entertain ourselves!” If anyone at PETA is interested in this be sure to email me.

  • Raul Martinez says:

    Hmm well a bat usually can’t pierce a humans skin. It doesn’t me that it doesn’t hurt. The elephants are still being hit whit bull hulks which probably wouldn’t feel very pleasant. It still hurts for them

  • JohnJ says:

    I’ve done quite a bit of research on bullhooks and elephant training. These hooks look mean but really they can’t pierce the tough skin. Just FYI