The Association Of Zoos & Aquariums Announced That It Is “Phasing-Out” Elephant Bullhooks; Why Did It Take So Long?


Yesterday, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced that it is updating its elephant standards to “phase-out” all use of elephant bullhooks. While this is a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done to ensure the safety of elephants that are sadly living life in captivity.

A bullhook is an outdated, circus-style training tool that resembles a fireplace poker and is used to inflict pain and punishment on elephants. While most AZA zoos have already switched to more humane and safer elephant handling methods, all circuses and roadside zoos with elephants continue to use this barbaric device.

“All animals deserve to receive the best possible care,” The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement. “Future revisions to its elephant standards should also prohibit imports of wild-caught elephants, expand space requirements, and ensure zoos with elephants are located in climates that provide the animals with year-round access to the outdoors.”

In 1991, it was an AZA zoo that first demonstrated that captive elephants could be humanely handled without the use of bullhooks by using operant conditioning in a safe, protected-contact environment. Over the years, many other zoos have adopted this practice.

Two states, California and Rhode Island, and 15 local governments (including: Austin, Texas; Minneapolis; Clatsop County, Oregon; and Fulton County, Georgia) have banned the use of bullhooks.

“Every step to ensure an animals care and well-being is a step in the right direction, but more must be done to free these sentient beings from unfavorable conditions in zoos and release them to accredited sanctuaries where they can live their lives in peace without human exploitation,” stated Peace 4 Animals.

“Why did it take this long to stop the use of bullhooks? If the AZA truly cared and took the welfare of the elephants into ‘consideration,’ this and other barbaric practices would have ended long ago,” continued Peace 4 Animals.

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