Victory! Florida County Votes To Prohibit Cruel Bullhooks At Zoo-Backed Elephant Center
An Animal Rights Article from


In Defense of Animals (IDA)
January 2010

In a major victory for elephants, the St. Lucie County, Florida Board of Commissioners made it very clear that the use of cruel bullhooks on elephants is not welcome in their county. The Board this week voted to allow the National Elephant Center (NEC), an elephant holding and breeding facility developed by a consortium of zoos, to proceed, but applied strict conditions that prohibit bullhooks, limit the number of elephants held at the center, and encourage the formation of an advisory committee to monitor elephant welfare.

IDA applauds the Boardís progressive decision, which will reverberate far beyond the borders of St. Lucie County. Elephants at the NEC will be spared from inhumane circus-style training and use of the bullhook - a device resembling a fireplace poker used to strike, stab, hook and prod elephants into compliance. The Commissioners set a standard for other communities to follow.

Working closely with national, state and local animal advocacy organizations, IDA was able to help achieve this momentous win for the elephants. The St. Lucie County decision is sure to be a wake-up call for all zoos still using archaic circus-style handling to control elephants through violence, physical punishment and fear. Itís clear that once the practice is exposed, the public and elected officials will not tolerate this unnecessary cruelty.

Many zoos have abandoned the use of bullhooks in favor of modern and humane training methods based solely on positive reinforcement and cooperation, rather than fear and pain. IDA hopes the St. Lucie County decision will encourage the zoo industry to completely eliminate bullhook use from its facilities and protect all elephants from cruelty and abuse.

You can be sure IDA will continue to diligently monitor the NECís development and operations, as questions remain about the facility. The center is intended to facilitate the continued exhibition of elephants in zoos despite the fact that these animals are suffering and dying in inadequate displays.

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