Target: Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack
Goal: To outlaw the use of bullhooks to train elephants in circuses.
Many zoos and circuses today use inhumane techniques to train their elephants. The methods often involve the use of a bullhook, or a tool used to poke and punish the animals. The handle is made of wood or metal and the hook is made of steel and is sharp, like a fireplace poker. Both ends are used to inflict pain on elephants.
An elephant’s skin ranges in thickness from one inch across its back to paper-thin around its mouth, eyes, ears, and anus. The skin may appear tough, but in many places, elephants can even feel the bite of an insect. Trainers typically embed the hook in the elephant’s most sensitive areas such as the soft tissue behind its ears; inside its ears or mouth; in and around the anus; and in tender spots under the chin and around its feet.
The bullhook is used to establish dominance over the elephant through negative reinforcement in the form of corporal punishment. Elephants are conditioned through violent training sessions and know that refusal to obey a bullhook-wielding trainer’s commands will result in severe punishment.
When pressure is applied to an elephant’s sensitive areas, the elephant is reminded of the force the trainer can inflict with that device. Trainers and industry spokespersons call this “guiding” the elephant, but the reality is that the bullhook is a tool of intimidation. The circus industry claims that the elephants perform tricks that they would normally perform in the wild. However, in the wild, an adult elephant would lie down in slow, gradual movements no more than once or twice per day and would not lie down and rise very quickly several times, as in a single circus show. In addition, elephants would not play with balls, do headstands, crawl, or twirl.
The use of bullhooks and other training methods that utilize pain or force are inhumane and simply should not be permitted for use anywhere. Though captive, these elephants still have the right to live healthy and comfortable lives without humans torturing them.
Sign the petition asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to prohibit the use of bullhooks along with other force-based techniques when it comes to training circus and zoo animals.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
As a concerned advocate for animal welfare, I am writing to voice my opinions on the use of bullhooks in zoos and circuses for the purpose of training animals. Most frequently, elephants are the victims of this method because they are so large and require a great deal of energy to train. However, there is no need to exert pain upon these poor creatures in the name of entertainment.
If we are going to remove wild animals from their natural habitats and place them in smaller, domesticated environments, we must ensure their quality of life is protected. Using objects such as bullhooks and other force-based techniques is cruel and inhumane. Human enjoyment isn’t worth another creature having to suffer.
The elephants deserve to live in peace without being treated as slaves. Please implement a ban on the use of bullhooks as well as force-based training methods altogether.
Thank you for your consideration.
[Your Name Here]