BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 716  


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          Date of Hearing:  August 19, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          SB 716  
          (Lara) - As Amended July 16, 2015


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill makes it a misdemeanor for any person who houses,  
          possesses, or is in direct contact with an elephant to use  








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          specified devices designed to inflict pain for the purpose of  
          training or controlling the behavior of an elephant.  


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Unknown, probably minor nonreimbursable local law enforcement  
          and incarceration costs, offset to a degree by increased fine  
          revenue. 


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, "SB 716 simply codifies  
            industry standards for elephant management by prohibiting the  
            use of bullhooks, bats, and pitchforks to discipline an  
            elephant. A bullhook is typically embedded into most sensitive  
            areas of an elephant, which involves areas around the ears,  
            mouth, and back of the legs. The use of this instrument also  
            puts handlers at severe risk, should an elephant decide to  
            rebel against the trainer. Since 1990, there have been at  
            least 16 human deaths, and 135 injuries in the U.S. have been  
            attributed to elephants. Simply put, it is time for the State  
            to prohibit this inhumane practice."

          2)Background.  Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), zoos,  
            circuses, transporters, roadside menageries and exhibitors of  
            elephants must be licensed and participate in record-keeping  
            and marking requirements.  Additional protections exist  
            governing their care, handling, and transport.
            California law makes abuse of an animal a crime, and specific  
            protections exist for elephants; statute goes on to list  
            specific conduct which is included under "abusive behavior,"  
            but does not limit the definition of abusive behavior towards  
            an elephant in any way. 










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            A guide, bullhook, and ankus are the same tool.  The guide is  
            a shaft with a tapered metal hook attached, and it sometimes  
            has a blunt metal point at the end. It is also sometime  
            referred to as the ankus, (bull)hook, or goad.  The guide  
            extends a handler's reach so s/he may touch, push, or pull  
            various parts of the elephant's body.  The use of this tool by  
            an owner or manager to engage in abusive behavior toward the  
            elephant is already a crime under existing law.


          3)Argument in Support. According to The Humane Society,  
            "Elephants are often hooked and hit with bullhooks before  
            performances in order to instill fear and, in turn, ensure  
            that tricks or other desired behavior will be performed on  
            command, during training to teach and reinforce tricks, to  
            punish the animals when they fail to perform as instructed,  
            and to control elephants during routine handling.  The handle  
            is used as a club, inflicting substantial pain by striking  
            areas where little tissue separates skin and bone.  In  
            response to criticisms that bullhook use constitutes abuse,  
            the industry has publicly started calling it a "guide."  Just  
            brandishing the bullhook provides a constant reminder to  
            elephants of the painful punishment that can be meted out  
            against them at the whim of their handlers."

          "In addition to the inhumane treatment of elephants, traveling  
            shows and other performances that use elephants in the state  
            also pose a threat to public safety by bringing people into  
            dangerously close proximity to an incredibly powerful and  
            stressed wild animal.  The use of bullhooks promotes  
            aggression and the device will not prevent an elephant from  
            rampaging or protect the public when such an incident occurs.   
            There have been numerous incidents where elephants have run  
            amok, sometimes causing death, injury, or property damage."
          4)Argument in Opposition.  According to The Elephant Managers  
            Association, ""There are existing federal regulations that  
            strictly govern elephant care under the Animal Welfare Act and  
            that are overseen and revised frequently by the U.S.  
            Department of Agriculture, animal and Plant Health Inspection  








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            Service (USDA/APHIS).  USDA/APHIS utilizes trained veterinary  
            professionals who are instructed specifically in  
            animal/elephant care and welfare to conduct regular  
            inspections of all license exhibitors of elephants (and other  
            animals)."

          "All animal species are vastly different in their husbandry  
            needs and each species requires specialized equipment to  
            ensure proper care.  Tools such as elephant guide (or  
            bullhooks) are safe and productive components of elephant care  
            and training.  As will all specialized equipment, their  
            effective sue requires skill and training while their complete  
            elimination inhibits effective and proper management  
            techniques that are specific to elephants due to their size  
            and unique evolutionary adaptations.  Elephant tools are not  
            intended to injure or harm the animal and are proven and  
            humane husbandry tools that are widely utilized by  
            knowledgeable and experience elephant care professionals in a  
            variety of settings.  They also add an increased degree of  
            safety for the trainer, the animal, and the public."

          5)Prior Legislation:  

             a)   AB 777 (Levine), of the 2007-2008 Legislative Session,  
               held in Assembly Public Safety, would have prohibited  
               specified conduct in relation to housing, possessing,  
               contacting, or traveling with an elephant.  

             b)   AB 3027 (Levine), of the 2005-2006 Legislative Session,  
               held in this committee, would have prevented the use an  
               Ankus, bullhook, or similar device on an elephant and would  
               have prevented the use of any chain that is used to  
               restrain an elephant, except if utilized for the shortest  
               amount of time necessary to provide actual medical  
               treatment.  


          









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          Analysis Prepared by:Pedro R. Reyes / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081