Could LA's Ban on Bullhooks Re-Ignite Efforts in Anaheim to Outlaw Circus Elephants?

Before Lorri Galloway was termed out as an Anaheim City Council member, she proposed and then withdrew a ban on performing animals in the city, which would have essentially ended the yearly Ringling Bros. and Barnum N Bailey Circus engagement at the Honda Center (as well as the elephant parade from train cars to the venue).

The Los Angeles City Council may have done what Galloway could not: removing one of the circus' three Southern California tour stops.


The LA council voted unanimously Wednesday to outlaw the use of bullhooks, which are sticks with a hook on the end that elephant wranglers use to–depending on who tells it–gently guide or subtly abuse the animals.

You know which camp LA Councilman Mitch O'Farrell falls in, as he told City News Service's Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou that bullhooks are “cruel and inhumane, and I would love to see the ban go into effect tomorrow.” But he may have to wait up to three years depending on the ordinance city attorneys craft to phase out bullhooks.

The ban, which would also bar the use of baseball bats, pitchforks, ax handles
and other goads used in place of bullhooks, “effectively bans circuses from performing with elephants” in LA, a Ringling Bros. spokesperson told reporter Chou. The City of Angels joins Anaheim and Ontario on the three-city SoCal swing for the circus.

“The City Council has taken the extreme step of outlawing the use of guides, also referred to as 'bullhooks,' which is a critical tool that the circus needs to present elephants,” the unnamed Ringling spokesman says in the City News Service piece. The circus goes on to accuse the city of acting without evidence of elephants having been harmed, implementing a measure that does nothing to better protect animals and preventing children and families from seeing live animals perform at the greatest show on Earth.

Ban fever was flamed by celebrities like singer Ke$ha, actress Kristen Bell and comedian
Sarah Silverman, who honored yours truly by posting a what-the-fuck? tweet with a link to this August 2011 post of mine:

Elephant on Ground Near Boxcar Brings Rashomon Explanations from Ringling Bros. and PETA

About a year later, Galloway kicked around the performing animal ban to her Anaheim council colleagues, explaining she was “sickened” by evidence she'd seen of alleged elephant abuse.

“I know it's considered part of Americana to have elephants in circuses,” Galloway said that night, “but it's time for change.”

Circus Comes to Anaheim City Hall

With “sadness,” and after consultation with animal-rights organizations that had clued her into the abuse allegations, Galloway pulled her proposed ban on performing wild and exotic animals within city limits.

Presenters of other animal attractions in the city, like rodeos, had lobbied against the councilwoman's proposal. But Galloway explained she might bring the issue back at a later time.

While she is not on the council now, talk around town is she's considering a run at Mayor Tom Tait's seat. Elephants may not be the only creatures with long memories.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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