BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    SB 716        Hearing Date:    April 28, 2015    
          |Author:    |Lara                                                 |
          |Version:   |April 6, 2015                                        |
          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
          |Consultant:|AA                                                   |
          |           |                                                     |

                        Subject:  Animal Cruelty:  Elephants


          Source:   East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo); The Humane  
          Society of the United States; Performing Animal Welfare Society  

          Prior Legislation:AB 777 (Levine) - 2007, died in the Assembly
                         AB 3027 (Levine) - 2006, held in Assembly  
                         SB 892 (McCorquodale) - Chapter 1423, Stats. 1989

          Support:  Active Environments, Inc.; Amboseli Trust for  
               Elephants; American Society for         the Prevention of  
               Cruelty to Animals; Animal Legal Defense Fund (San  
               Bay Area); Best Friends Animal Society; City of Oakland;  
               Earth Island Institute;                 Elephant Voices;  
               Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee; Free Willy Keiko  
               The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center; The Global March for  
               Elephants and                           Rhinos; Humane  
               Society Veterinary Medical Association; In Defense of  
               Animals; The League of Human Voters; March for Elephants  
               and Rhinos San Francisco;               The Marin Humane  
               Society; San Diego Human Society; San Francisco SPCA;   


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               Santa Clara County Activists for Animals; Sierra Wildlife  
               Coalition; Uganda                       Carnivore Program;  
               Councilmember Paul Koretz, City of Los Angeles;
                    Several individuals

          Opposition:Western Fairs Association; The Elephant Managers  
                    Association; several individuals


          The purpose of this bill is to prohibit the use of a bullhook or  
          related device to discipline, manage or train an elephant, as  

          Current law provides that it is a misdemeanor "for any owner or  
          manager of an elephant to engage in abusive behavior towards the  
          elephant, which behavior shall include the discipline of the  
          elephant by any of the following methods:

             a)   Deprivation of food, water, or rest.

             b)   Use of electricity.

             c)   Physical punishment resulting in damage, scarring, or  
               breakage of skin.

             d)   Insertion of any instrument into any bodily orifice.

             e)   Use of martingales.

             f)   Use of block and tackle.  (Penal Code  596.5.)

          This bill would repeal this section on January 1, 2018, and on  
          and after January 1, 2018, replaces it with a provision that  
          that is identical except as follows:

                 This bill would prohibit the use of the proscribed  
               methods for purposes of "management" or "training" of an  
               elephant; and

                 This bill would include within its prohibitions the  
               "(u)se of a bullhook, ankus, guide, or pitchfork, including  
               the use of those devices without making contact."


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          For the past eight years, this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  
          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;

                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,

                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          In February of this year the administration reported that as "of  
          February 11, 2015, 112,993 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.6% of design bed  
          capacity, and 8,828 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  This current population is now below the  
          court-ordered reduction to 137.5% of design bed capacity."(  
          Defendants' February 2015 Status Report In Response To February  
          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).

          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state now must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  
          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:


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                  Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has  
                 contributed to reducing the prison population;

                  Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public  
                 safety or criminal activity for which there is no other  
                 reasonable, appropriate remedy;

                  Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
                 dangerous to the physical safety of others for which  
                 there is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 

                  Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
                 legislative drafting error; and

                  Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
                 proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
                 reasonably appropriate remedy.


          1.Stated Need for This Bill

          The author states:

               The bill amends Penal Code Section 596.5, which  
               already prohibits a number of cruel and inhumane  
               elephant training methods such as the use of  
               electricity; deprivation of food and water; physical  
               punishment resulting in damage, scarring, or breakage  
               of skin; use of martingales; and the use of block and  
               tackles. However, existing law does not address the  
               most common cruel and inhumane training devices used  
               on elephants the bullhook. 

               Bullhooks are commonly used by elephant handlers to  
               train, punish, and control elephants.  A bullhook  
               resembles a fireplace poker.  It has a sharp metal  
               hook and spiked tip, and the handle is typically  
               plastic or wood.  It is used to prod, hook, strike,  
               and hit elephants on their sensitive areas of skin in  
               order to inflict pain during training, performing, and  


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               Both ends of the bullhook are used to inflict damage.   
               The hook is used to apply varying degrees of pressure  
               to sensitive spots on an elephant's body, causing the  
               elephant to move away from the source of pain, often  
               causing puncture wounds and lacerations.  When the  
               hooked end is held, the handle is used as a club,  
               inflicting substantial pain when the elephant is  
               struck in areas where little tissue separates skin and  
               bone.  Even when not in use, the bullhook is a  
               constant reminder of the painful punishment that can  
               be delivered at any time.

               There is an alternative method that can be used.  In  
               fact, all of the accredited zoos in California and the  
               Performing Animal Welfare Society Sanctuary are  
               utilizing this training method which relies solely on  
               positive reinforcement to guide elephant behavior. 

          2.What This Bill Would Do

          As explained above, this bill would prohibit the use of a  
          bullhook or related device to discipline, manage or train an  
          elephant, as specified, effective January 1, 2018.

          3.Background; Supporters

          According to the sponsor and supporters of the bill, a "bullhook  
          is a steel-pointed rod resembling a fireplace poker that is used  
          to prod, hook, and strike elephants in order to dominate and  
          control of them during training, performing, and handling.  The  
          sharp tip and hook are applied with varying degrees of pressure  
          to sensitive spots on an elephant's body, causing the elephant  
          to recoil from the source of pain.  The handle is used as a  
          club, inflicting substantial pain by striking areas where little  
          tissue separates skin and bone. . . .  

               Elephant calves are forcibly separated from their  
               mothers (females elephants naturally remain with their  
               mothers for life) and taught to associate the bullhook  
               with pain and fear.  While the elephant is typically  
               restrained, handlers repeatedly administer sharp jabs  
               and hooks with the bullhook, and strike sensitive  


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               parts of their bodies with the handle or metal hook.   
               Thereafter, the elephant responds to the bullhook out  
               of fear of pain (moving away from the device) and will  
               be expected to perform a behavior on cue or suffer the  
               painful consequences. . . .   

               Elephants are highly intelligent, powerful, and  
               dangerous wild animals; there is no such thing as a  
               "domesticated" elephant. Elephants in direct contact  
               with humans present a serious risk and must be kept  
               under strict control at all times. An elephant is not  
               allowed to step out of line - not even for a moment -  
               or she will be physically punished with the bullhook.   
               Elephants would not voluntarily perform the grueling  
               routines required in a typical circus act-these  
               physically difficult tricks are only performed to  
               avoid punishment. . . .

               Protected Contact management uses positive  
               reinforcement training paired with food treats and  
               praise and a protective barrier between elephant and  
               trainer; the bullhook is not used.  With Protected  
               Contact the elephant also has a choice to participate  
               in training sessions.  If they choose not to, then  
               they may simply walk away from the trainer with no  
               repercussions for doing so.  Progressive facilities,  
               including every California zoo accredited by the  
               Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and  
               sanctuaries including the Performing Animal Welfare  
               Society in San Andreas, California, utilize this  
               method and are able to effectively provide husbandry  
               and veterinary care to elephants in a way that is  
               safer for keepers and veterinarians, as well as  
               psychologically and physically humane for elephants. .  
               . .

          The East Bay Zoological Society, which owns the Oakland  
          Zoo, supports this bill, explaining in part that it has  
          used the management style called "Protected Contact"  
          described above.  According to the Humane Society of the  
          United States, "California zoos accredited by the  
          Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) no longer use  
          bullhooks, nor does the Performing Animal Welfare Society's  
          sanctuary which is home to numerous rescued elephants.  The  


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          AZA now also urges all its member zoos to switch to a safer  
          and more humane elephant training system that does not  
          utilize the bullhook."  (emphasis in original).  The  
          president and co-founder of PAWS, which is a sponsor of  
          this bill, states in part:

               Based on firsthand observations, I have concluded that  
               there is no way to humanely use a bullhook - a weapon  
               resembling a fireplace poker, with a sharp metal point  
               and hook at the end - to train and manage elephants.   
               By its very design, the bullhook is meant to inflict  
               pain and instill fear.  I have spent time around many  
               circuses and personally seen handlers forcefully hook,  
               jab and strike elephants with bullhooks on sensitive  
               parts of their bodies before and during performances,  
               and as a matter of routine handling.  It was very  
               obvious by the elephants' responses that they both  
               anticipated and experienced pain.

               Animal exhibitors who work in direct contact with  
               elephants - in circuses, elephant rides and other  
               types of entertainment - rely on negative  
               reinforcement training and the bullhook to cue  
               elephant behavior.  The elephant moves away from the  
               bullhook to avoid pain.  Handlers often use verbal  
               commands that are sharp and harsh.  The Protected  
               Contact system used at PAWS, and in all California  
               zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and  
               Aquariums, relies on positive reinforcement training  
               and use of a protective barrier between keeper and  
               elephant.  To cue behaviors, keepers utilize a  
               "target," which is a long-?handled pole with a soft  
               tip.  In contrast to the bullhook, the elephant moves  
               toward the target, and the behavior is reinforced with  
               a food reward and gentle words of praise.  Using this  
               method, we are able to provide necessary husbandry and  
               veterinary care, including specialized and more  
               intensive care for our older elephants.  The elephants  
               cooperate with foot care, blood collection, trunk  
               washes, physical examination, and a variety of  
               husbandry behaviors without risk to our staff.  The  
               elephants willingly engage with keepers, and they  
               display behaviors that indicate the training is a  
               positive experience for them.


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          The Western Fairs Association, which opposes this bill,  
          states in part:

               Our organization has been monitoring proposed  
               legislation regarding guides for several years. Groups  
               including the Elephant Manager's Association, the  
               Zoological Association of America, the Association of  
               Zoos and Aquariums, the International Elephant  
               Foundation Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide, and the  
               American Veterinary Medical Association all recognize  
               the guide as a husbandry tool to aid in caring of  
               elephants and have policies in place for its use.

               We see the efforts to ban the guide -- effectively  
               shutting down elephant exhibits and rides at fairs --  
               as the beginning of a slippery slope that has serious  
               implications for all fairs. . . .

          Another opponent states in part:

               When used CORRECTLY, an ankus is what a good trainer  
               uses to let an elephant know which way to turn or when  
               to pick up a foot etc.  It is a tool which has been  
               used for centuries and the reason it is used is  
               because it does not harm the elephant but it can get  
               their attention when their focus might wander or  
               especially at times when they could injure a person  
               simply due to their size (much like grabbing a child  
               by the hand if they are heading towards something that  
               might injure them).  An elephant professional who has  
               years of experience with elephants and elephant care  
               should be well versed as to how and when to use an  
               ankus correctly.  To ban the use of the ankus is never  
               going to do anything positive for the care and  
               wellbeing of elephants; it will however do the exact  

               I am a veterinarian in California who has taken care  
               of elephants for over 20 years.  I have seen  
               first-hand how the health of an animal is greatly  
               influenced by the amount of close up care and  


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               attention it can receive. . . .  Elephants in human  
               care are no longer roaming the plains of Africa or the  
               jungles of Asia and over the centuries training  
               methods have evolved to allow giant, intelligent,  
               thoughtful elephants to safely interact with humans  
               and other animals.  The elephants which have been  
               lucky enough to have been raised and cared for by  
               professionals who take the time to teach them and work  
               with them for years so they can go different places  
               and be around different people and animals are by far  
               the luckiest and healthiest. . . .   An elephant (or  
               any undomesticated animal) under human care is not the  
               same as an elephant still living wild and it shouldn't  
               have to be.  We need to do everything in our power to  
               enable the humans who spend the time and effort to  
               teach and care for these amazing creatures rather than  
               demonize them and ban one of their necessary tools.   
               Any tool in the wrong hands can do harm but the answer  
               is not to ban the tool!!


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