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State lawmakers advance bill to make California first state to ban bullhooks on elephants

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SACRAMENTO, California — The California state Assembly has passed a bill to ban the use of bullhooks to guide and discipline elephants.

SB716 by Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens would make California the first state in the nation to protect elephants against bullhooks starting in 2018.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Performing Animal Welfare Society are seeking the ban. They say the sharp tools are used to beat, hit and poke elephants and that no sanctuary or accredited California zoo uses the devices.

Instead, keepers use a long pole with a soft tip as a target to draw the elephant in the desired direction, with a treat to reinforce behavior.

The Assembly passed the bill on a 59-7 vote Thursday, sending it to the Senate.

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