SACRAMENTO (AP)— California would be the first state to ban using bullhooks to guide and discipline elephants, under a bill moving through the Legislature.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, says the hooks are cruel to the animals and dangerous to their handlers if the elephant rebels.

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The bill was sought by the Humane Society of the United States and the Performing Animal Welfare Society. The groups say no accredited sanctuary or California zoo uses the devices.

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Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican from Temecula, and the only one who spoke in opposition, says the hook shaped like a fireplace poker has been used for centuries to safely guide elephants and is not torturous.

SB716 passed the Senate on Friday on a 29-7 vote, and now goes to the Assembly.

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