The Los Angeles City Council has voted to begin the process of banning bullhooks - the spike-tipped pokers used to train and control elephants.
The council on Wednesday unanimously asked the city attorney's office to prepare an ordinance outlawing the use of bullhooks, pitchforks, baseball bats and other prods.
The law would take effect in three years and make LA the largest city in the U.S. to ban the goads.
Critics say bullhooks are inhumane.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus says the decision wasn't supported by any evidence of local elephant abuse and won't affect the animals' welfare - but it might mean the end of elephants at the circus in LA.