Great news! Thanks to pressure from PETA and kind readers who took action, the St. Lucie County Commission has voted unanimously to ban bullhooks from the proposed National Elephant Center (NEC).
A coalition of zoos plans to use the NEC to breed and temporarily house elephants from zoos that are making meager renovations to cramped urban zoo exhibits, so of course PETA has some serious concerns about the project, since intelligent, social elephants suffer and die prematurely in lonely, inadequate zoo enclosures. But PETA’s biggest worry was the intended use of circus-style training, so we’re thrilled that the NEC won’t be allowed to use “bullhooks”—a weapon resembling a fireplace poker that trainers wield to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey. By responding to PETA’s call to ban bullhooks, the St. Lucie County Commission is taking a big step forward in making the lives of these social, intelligent, and complex animals a little bit nicer.
While the NEC will be bullhook-free, many of the zoos behind its creation—including the Oregon Zoo, Columbus Zoo, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom—continue to use this outdated method for “managing” elephants and have a cozy relationship with Ringling Bros., whose trainers subject baby elephants to violent training with bullhooks. In fact, Ringling had announced that it was interested in moving some of its elephants to the NEC. Please join PETA’s Action Team to get updates on ways to take action for animals.
Written by Logan Scherer