August 29, 2016
For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Kim Gardner: 916-539-5305,
Catherine Doyle: 323-301-5730,
PAWS Celebrates California Ban on Elephant Bullhooks

State Becomes Second in Nation
to Outlaw Inhumane Weapon
  • Governor Brown today signed a law to ban elephant bullhooks.
  • The bullhook is an inherently abusive weapon used to control elephants.
  • PAWS and progressive elephant managers shun this cruel device, while providing a full range of husbandry and veterinary care. 
San Andreas, Calif. (August 29, 2016) - The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which cares for eight elephants at its ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas, California, is celebrating after Governor Jerry Brown today signed SB 1062 into law, banning elephant bullhooks. Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) sponsored the bill, which makes California the second state to adopt a bullhook ban, after Rhode Island.
"PAWS applauds Governor Brown for signing SB 1062 into law and thanks Senator Ricardo Lara for his leadership and great compassion for elephants," said PAWS President Ed Stewart. "We are proud to have been a co-sponsor of this important law that will ensure these highly intelligent, sensitive and self-aware animals get the respect and protection they deserve."
The bullhook is a weapon resembling a fireplace poker, with a sharp steel tip and hook at the end, that is used to dig into an elephant's surprisingly sensitive skin. Handlers sharply strike, hook, and jab elephants with the bullhook to maintain control of the large animals, sometimes causing puncture wounds and lacerations. The bullhook is commonly used in circuses, elephant rides and other "entertainment."
"The bullhook has only one use, which is to control elephants through fear and pain," said Stewart. "There simply is no place for this cruel and archaic weapon in modern elephant management." 
PAWS has worked with elephants for more than 30 years, including bulls and highly dangerous elephants, and never used a bullhook. Keepers rely on positive reinforcement training, food treats and praise to train and manage the sanctuary's elephants, providing a full range of husbandry and veterinary care. In California, no AZA-accredited zoo uses bullhooks.
Prior to SB 1062, PAWS played a key role in passing bullhook bans in Los Angeles and Oakland, and has been active in the passage of ordinances in other major cities, the Rhode Island state ban, and San Francisco's prohibition on the use of performing wild animals. Today, more than 50 jurisdictions across the U.S. have measures restricting the use of performing wild animals, including bullhook bans.
"The California ban on bullhooks is one more powerful indicator that public attitudes about the treatment and use of elephants in circuses, rides and traveling shows are rapidly changing," Stewart stated. "This is the beginning of the end for the use of elephants and other wild animals in entertainment."
The California law will go into effect January 1, 2018. PAWS co-sponsored SB 1062 together with the Oakland Zoo and The Humane Society of the United States.
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Founded in 1984, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) operates three sanctuaries in Northern California, including the 2300-acre ARK 2000 natural habitat refuge, that are home to a large variety of species including Asian and African elephants, African lions, tigers, and other exotic animals rescued or retired from circuses, zoos and the exotic pet trade.

PAWS is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, and is rated a four-star charity by Charity Navigator and received an "A" rating from CharityWatch.