Action Alert – CA 1062

From Feld Entertainment
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As you will recall last October, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed CA SB 716, a bill which would have banned the use of the elephant guide (bull hook/ankus) in the state.  In his veto message to the members of the California State Senate, Governor Brown stated emphatically that he refused to sign SB 716 (along with other bills involving California’s criminal code) because:
“Each of these bills creates a new crime, usually by finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed. This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.”
In other words, the Governor found no reason to enact legislation banning elephant guides, since comprehensive federal, state, and local animal cruelty laws already protect all performing and exhibition animals in California.  Despite this conclusion, State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has decided to once again introduce state legislation to ban the elephant guide in California, this time imposing civil penalties.  If passed, this legislation would, in effect, prohibit all elephant performances or elephant exhibitions in the state.
Senator Lara’s new legislation is California Senate Bill 1062, and the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.  A committee hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2016.  The text of CA SB 1062 is attached for your reference.
The elephant guide is a widely accepted and humane elephant management tool that is absolutely necessary for people to safely work or interact with elephants in a public setting, whether it is at a fair, in a circus, zoo or any other setting.  Further, proper use of the elephant guide is a crucial component for elephant management in breeding and conservation programs and for providing comprehensive veterinary care.  In short, elephants are better off when they can be cared for in the hands-on manner that this tool allows.
Responsible management of any animal involves maintaining proper control over the animal in order to ensure its safety, as well as that of others. Though managing trained elephants is primarily done through voice commands, when appropriate, the handlers will use a guide, bull hook, or ankus, along with the voice command to communicate with or “cue” the elephants.  It is equivalent to the use of a leash and collar to control a dog or a bit and bridle or riding crop to control a horse.  These are tools that are appropriate for each animal and allow properly trained handlers to communicate with the animal in a way that the animal understands. The guide is simply a husbandry tool appropriate for elephants.
Further, the guide is a proven and humane husbandry tool accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates all zoos and circuses, and is approved by the International Elephant Foundation, the Elephant Managers Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.  There are numerous organizations who have opposed legislation to ban elephant guides, including:
Elephant Managers Association
International Elephant Foundation
Zoological Association of America
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
American Veterinary Medical Association
Circus Fans of America
Outdoor Amusement Business Association
Take Action to Oppose CA SB 1062!
Please take a moment to contact each of the nine (9) members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee with a short e-mail or phone call to voice your opposition to CA SB 1062, and encourage your friends and family to do the same (especially those that live in California).  Contact information is listed below.  Sample talking points for your communications are provided at the end of this alert, but please use your own words and your own experiences as a circus and performing animal supporter to politely express your opposition to this proposed elephant ban.
Thank you for your help in opposing this legislation in California!
Committee on Natural Resources and Water (California State Senate)
Senator Fran Pavley, Chair (D)                    (916) 651-4027         
Senator Jeff Stone, Vice Chair (R)             (916) 651-4028         
Senator Benjamin Allen (D)                         (916) 651-4026         
Senator Jean Fuller (R)                                  (916) 651-4016         
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg (D)              (916) 651-4018         
Senator Ben Hueso (D)                                  (916) 651-4040         
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D)            (916) 651-4019         
Senator Bill Monning (D)                               (916) 651-4017         
Senator Lois Wolk (D)                                     (916) 651-4003         
Sample Talking Points
The following are suggestions for your correspondence in California, but please use your own words, and you do not need to include every bullet point.  Please keep all correspondence respectful.
·         Politely tell the Natural Resources Committee members that you are OPPOSED to any measure that would prevent elephant handlers and breeders in California from using this widely accepted and humane elephant management tool.
·         True animal experts know that a safe and secure environment is the only acceptable and successful method of training any animal, including elephants.  The elephant guide, sometimes called a bull hook or ankus, has been used by elephant handlers for thousands of years.  Elephant handlers in zoos, nature preserves and circuses throughout the world use the guide as an extension of the trainer’s arm along with a voice command.
·         The most successful Asian elephant breeding and conservation programs are free contact management, and that means using guides (bull hooks).  By banning this tool you would limit the ability of most California zoos to ever breed elephants successfully.
·         The North American elephant population is not sustainable and this is particularly true for Asian elephants.  Each year fewer zoos have elephants and even fewer have successful breeding programs, due in part from the movement away from free contact management of elephants.
·         The elephant guide is also approved by veterinary and zoological organizations because it enhances the ability of veterinarians and keepers to care for their elephants.
·         If any animal is being mistreated in any environment, then the right answer is to enforce existing laws and regulations to punish bad actors, as opposed to punishing an entire industry and the public who enjoy elephant exhibitions.