Outlaw the Use of Brutal Bullhooks to Train Elephants

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]

Sign the Petition

  • Only your name will be displayed. By signing, you accept our terms and may receive updates on this and related causes.
FacebookCare2 NewsTwitterEmailShare


  1. this is inhuman for circuses to use such forces as bull hooks elephants why do the believe animals derserve to be in then it’s plain and simple they don’t using bull hooks as well as other devices to force them to do inhuman tricks to entertain people should be outlawed animals especially elephants standing on they’re heads is the most inhuman thing I’ve ever seen or heard the man who came up with forcing a poor elephant to stand on it’s head should be made to stand on his head for at least 24 hours just to see how exhausted stressful it is although it wouldn’t be quite as exhausting for him as it is for the poor elephants it should at least be giving a good shot he deserves it the elephants don’t.

  2. Jan Goble says:

    It’s absolutely horrendous what these precious eles have to go through for our entertainment so the owners can line their pocketbooks with the proceeds from our circus and zoo tickets. Please everyone who cares about this sign every petition that comes your way so we can get this barbaric treatment stopped. My most heartfelt thanks goes to everyone who loves elephants and who do whatever you can for their benefit. Love and blessings to you and to our precious gentle giants. May something/someone get through the thick, greedy heads and hearts of the abusers.

  3. fran godwin says:

    Hate this for any animal who is trained, needs to be outlawed

  4. Lisa Goldberg says:

    What will it take for this cruelty to STOP!!!!!!!! Please, have done to all that breathes air as you would have all do unto you!!!!!!

  5. Stop cruelty now

  6. Chris Connors says:

    STOP this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Facebook Comments


534 Signatures

  • Ana Maria Mainhardt Carpes
  • Brett Wolff
  • Doris Telles
  • Geri Mason
  • Nitzan Steiman
  • Darlene Roepke
  • Lynn Juozilaitis
  • Richard Ohlendorf
  • tam O
  • Mary-Carol Gales
1 of 53123...53
Skip to toolbar