RI bill would outlaw elephant bullhooks, chains

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus handler Joey Frisco speaks to an Asian elephant during an appearance in Boston's North End, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Animal welfare advocates are asking Rhode Island lawmakers to ban certain devices used to control circus elephants.

The legislative proposal would prohibit animal handlers from using devices known as bullhooks, which are pressed into sensitive areas an elephant's skin to force it to respond to commands.

Rep. Raymond Gallison and three other lawmakers are sponsoring the measure in the General Assembly. A similar bill never made it to a final vote last year. The bill is supported by the Humane Society of the United States.

The legislation would also bar the use of chain restraints and other implements used to cause pain, scarring or abrasions to an elephant's skin.

Violating the rules would be considered a felony and offenders could face fines of up to $5,000 and potential jail time.