What is a bullhook?

The bullhook, elephant goad, or ankus is a tool used to control, train and handle elephants in captivity.


The bullhook is a hook (usually made of steel) which is attached to a long handle and is traditionally used to jab sensitive areas of the elephant’s body such as behind the ears, around the anus or on their trunk. These areas are extremely sensitive; a jab in these areas will get a quick reaction from the elephant.

Bullhooks are a cause of welfare concern and are deemed unethical. Understandably, there has been much public outcry about the use of the bullhook and abuse in elephant training across South East Asia.


However, bullhooks can have a place in elephant tourism. Learn about the use and importance of bullhooks.

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