By TONY GUGLIOTTA, WJAR
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CIRCA via WJAR) — The Roger Williams Park Zoo is under fire after activist group In Defense of Animals (IDA) listed it as the fifth-worst zoo in the country for elephants. This is because the IDA says the zoo’s use of bullhooks by elephant trainers is cruel to the animals.
Meet Our #5 Worst Zoo for #Elephants#RogerWilliamParkZoo, Providence, #RhodeIsland— InDefenseOfAnimals (@IDAUSA) January 14, 2019
"Living in the Dark Ages of Bull-hook Cruelty"
This zoo uses an archaic & inhumane weapon to control elephants through fear & pain instead of protected contact.
Full list: https://t.co/wJIZbuqyx3 pic.twitter.com/FkWBxHSwHk
A bullhook is a long baton with a metal hook on the end and is used to train elephants. Video footage has surfaced online from several circuses of the bullhooks being used to beat the animals and harm them in order to get the elephants to do what the handler wants.
Personnel at the Providence zoo told Circa partner WJAR that the instruments are not used that way at the zoo.
"The appropriate way to use this is to guide an elephant and cue the elephant with it,” said Jenn Warmbold, the elephant manager at Roger Williams Park Zoo.
Elephant keepers use positive verbal tones and food to train the zoo's three elephants, not for performing or entertainment, but for basic handling and safe veterinary care.
"It's your brain that you're using, not (the bullhook), to outsmart an elephant," Warmbold said.
"The guide is an approved tool used for managing elephants,” added Roger Williams Park Zoo executive director Dr. Jeremy Goodman. “All knowledgeable groups approve this training tool, and that's really what it is. If it's used properly, it doesn't cause harm to the elephants."
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