By Nicole Adams
Senate Bill 1626, sponsored by Senator Bob Hedlund, is An Act Relating to the Treatment of Elephants and is scheduled to be heard in the Tourism Committee on February 3, 2014 at 2 p.m.
The bill “would prohibit any person who houses, possesses or travels with elephants utilized in traveling shows from using any implement that would result in physical harm or from keeping the elephants constantly restrained by chain or similar device,” according to the MSPCA.
The passage of this bill would end the use of bullhooks and chains on traveling elephants in Mass. A bullhook, also known as an ankus, is a device that is made of wood or metal, with a sharp metal hook at the end. It is used to “train and control” elephants through pain by poking, stabbing or hitting the animal.
Chains are used to restrict the movement of captive elephants. Chains do not allow elephants to lie down, walk or socialize. Strict confinement often leads to negative psychological behaviors.
Circuses claim that the bullhook is never used to harm an elephant, only to guide them. If this were the case, a soft wand could be used to guide an elephant instead.
The MSPCA invites you to come to the hearing, as well as call or write your senator and representative to let them know to support bill 1626. The hearing will be held at the State House in Boston, room A-1.