The Richmond City Council’s Health and Education Committee met Wednesday evening to discuss the animal rights movement’s request for a ban on the “bullhook” or “guide” used by circus elephant handlers to train and manage the elephants. This would amount to ban on the circus in Richmond, as Ringling will not perform without the elephants. The ban would take effect in 2017.
Circus staff, including veterinarians who provide care for the elephants and the elephant program manager among others, testified to the necessity of having the bullhook available as a tool, especially when performing in a public arena. PETA lawyers and Richmond SPCA staff testified that the bullhooks are cruel ans elephants can be managed using only positive reinforcement. One of PETA’s attorneys also stated that animals should not be required to perform to entertain people.
In the end, the committee voted to carry the proposal to the City Council, but to delay voting on it until January. There were three committee members present, and the one who vote against pursuing a ban on bullhooks is Michelle Mosby. Federation members Elizabeth Brinkley, Sharyn Hutchens, and Anne Taylor attended the meeting. We’ll keep you updated.