1. The bullhook is a tool used almost universally by circuses to control elephants.
4. It’s because they’re scared of this.
5. Elephants, like basically every other creature, are terrified of pain.
6. Their skin appears deceptively tough, but in reality it is so delicate that an elephant can feel the pain of an insect bite. A bullhook can easily inflict pain and injury on an elephant’s sensitive skin.
7. Trainers use the hook on soft tissue behind the ears, inside the ear or mouth, in and around the anus, and in tender spots under the chin and around the feet.
8. During performances, trainers with bullhooks often stand on the side as a constant reminder to the elephants of what will happen if they get out of line.
Handlers sometimes hide the bullhooks up their sleeves, or put black electric tape over the metal on their “show hooks” so the audience won’t notice them.
9. So how do you get an elephant from “wild” to “circus-ready”?
10. Circus elephants develop a fear of the bullhook very early on in life.
11. They exhibit typical pain avoidance responses to the bullhook by recoiling or making fear noises.
12. These photos show Ringling Bros. circus trainers breaking a baby elephant down.
13. As you can see…
18. Also smiles.
19. Cities around the U.S. are starting to ban bullhooks. Just this past September, the city of Los Angeles UNANIMOUSLY voted to ban bullhooks.
21. New York City should be next.
22. The city is currently involved in a lawsuit with the UniverSoul Circus. The city has denied entry to the circus’ elephants because they won’t take tuberculosis tests.
23. This picture of an elephant in the UniverSoul Circus was taken last year. As you can see, there’s a bullhook.
24. The easiest way for the city of New York to get elephants out of circuses is to ban the bullhook.
25. No bullhooks = no elephants in circuses.
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