A bill to preserve the management of elephants in Oklahoma was introduced to the OK House and has progressed to the OK Senate. In a collaborative effort from the Endangered Ark Foundation (EAF) and representative Humphrey, HR 3281 hopes to make it a state law for any institution housing elephants to manage them as they see fit, using either free contact or protected contact methods. The reason this is so important is multifaceted: Oklahoma is home to two AZA accredited facilities that use protected contact and one facility that has a mixture of both protected and free contact. This last facility, EAF, is the largest breeding herd of Asian elephants left in the United States.
The EAF uses bullhooks, livestock goad-shaped tools ESA refers to as “guide sticks,” which have long been decried by animal rights activists as, essentially, instruments of torture (quick clarification, if needed: they are not). The EAF uses guide sticks with its free contact elephants as a tactile cue to work alongside visual or verbal cues. Elephants have poor vision, but are extremely tactile creatures, making the guide stick a vital tool. Hopefully, this same law can be passed in other states like Texas and Florida, where major zoological institutions and private owners can benefit from the preservation of all elephant keeping methods.