The Los Angeles City Council took action Wednesday to ban bullhooks used by elephant trainers in traveling circuses, becoming the first U.S. metropolis to outlaw a tool that critics say inflicts pain.
Voting unanimously, the council asked the city attorney’s office to prepare an ordinance outlawing the use of the bullhook, a sharp-tipped tool used to train and keep elephants under control. Baseball bats, ax handles, pitchforks and other implements used on the pachyderms would also be banned.
In a concession to Councilman Gil Cedillo, however, the council voted to give circuses three years to either change how they handle elephants or remove them from shows altogether.
Many in the standing-room-only crowd in the council chamber at City Hall were upset by the last-minute amendment, which Cedillo said would save jobs of workers who help staff circuses when they come to town.
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