Written by Jeff Mackey
PETA's work to put a stop to the elephant rides offered at
California fairs by the notoriously cruel exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel—including submitting extensive written testimony to fair board members, sending a PETA
representative to testify, and issuing an action alert—continues to bear fruit,
as Orange County has followed
in the compassionate footsteps of the Santa Ana Zoo and will no longer be hosting elephant rides.
Marion Doss | cc by 2.0
The Orange County Fair had hosted Have Trunk Will
Travel—whose trainers have been caught on video repeatedly shocking elephants
with electric prods and beating them with bullhooks (cruel instruments
resembling fireplace pokers)—for 25 years. But after more than a year of
pressure from PETA, Animal Defenders International, and others, including many wonderful PETA Files
readers—have I told you lately that I love you?—the OC Fair has told the animal abusers at
Have Trunk Will Travel to step
the members of the OC Fair Board for their compassionate decision and ask the San Diego County and Los Angeles County fairs to follow suit by banning Have Trunk Will Travel.
Written by Jennifer OConnor
Great news: After
more than a year of pressure from PETA, the Animal Protection and Rescue League,
Animal Defenders International (ADI), and celebrities—including Charo and Switched at Birth
star Constance Marie—the Santa Ana Zoo in California has announced
that it will discontinue cruel and dangerous elephant rides.
This is a big deal
for the elephants, who are dominated and controlled
by bullhooks—barbaric training devices that resemble a fireplace poker—as can be
seen in video
footage from ADI that shows that trainers
from Have Trunk Will Travel, the company that provided elephant rides for the
zoo, beat and shocked elephants into submission. When not working, the
elephants spend much of their time chained by two legs, barely able to take a
step forward or backward.
Elephants are highly
intelligent, social, and curious animals who deserve better than being forced
to plod along in circles all day while being prodded by a bullhook for people's
amusement. Elephants who are subjected to the constant threat of physical
punishment—like those who provided rides at the zoo—are also more prone to
dangerous and unpredictable behavior and present an unnecessary safety risk to
Please click here to send a thank-you note to Santa
Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and click here
to thank Gerardo Mouet, the executive director of the city's Parks, Recreation
and Community Services Agency, for making the compassionate decision to end the
elephant rides. Be sure to add a P.S. to Mr. Mouet to ask him to make the same
decision for the Orange County Fair since Have Trunk Will Travel provides the rides
there, too, and Mouet is on the fair's board.
Written by PETA
Actor and mom Constance Marie has fired off a letter to Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido to ask that he put an end to the elephant rides at the Santa Ana Zoo. Constance, who stars in ABC Family's new show Switched at Birth, was sickened after watching video footage of trainers with Have Trunk Will Travel—who provide the elephants for the rides—as they beat elephants with bullhooks and shocked them with electric prods.
Says Constance, "Every swing of the trainers' bullhooks and jab of the electric prods horrified me, and seeing a baby elephant scream in pain each time a sharp bullhook is jabbed into his mouth was simply heartbreaking."
Please add your voice to Constance Marie's by asking the mayor of Santa Ana to stop the rides once and for all.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Despite being informed about the cruelty of hauling elephants around in tractor trailers and "controlling" them with bullhooks, California's Orange County Fair is going ahead with plans to offer elephant rides provided by an outfit called "Have Trunk Will Travel" (HTWT). HTWT is the same exhibitor that was caught on tape hitting elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods. The fair's contract with HTWT allows it to cancel the rides for this year's fair by this Thursday (tomorrow), so please send a message today to fair officials urging them to do so. Be sure to add that you hope that they eliminate these cruel and dangerous rides permanently.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Video footage just released by Animal Defenders International shows trainers with Have Trunk Will Travel—the company that provides elephants for rides at the Santa Ana Zoo—as they strike elephants with sharp metal-tipped bullhooks and shock them with electric prods. PETA has filed multiple complaints against this exhibitor, and we've repeatedly urged Santa Ana officials to end the rides. But so far, the zoo has refused.
The owners of Have Trunk Will Travel—which rents out elephants for movies and commercials and uses elephants in any other way that can make a buck—have defended using bullhooks, which can leave painful welts, abscesses, and puncture wounds, and have indicated that electric prods are a useful training "tool." Elephants who would never do headstands or balance on pedestals—if given a choice—quickly learn to obey or suffer the painful consequences.
Please tell Santa Ana officials to stop supporting abuse like that seen on the video by discontinuing dangerous and cruel elephant rides.
While serving as the honorary crueltymaster ringmaster at a performance of the Atlanta-based UniverSoul Circus, Clayton County Commissioner Eldrin Bell made a grand mistake by making a grand entrance on an elephant. It seems as though the commish might need a refresher on state law, because riding an elephant is illegal in Georgia.
Now the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is investigating UniverSoul Circus and the company that leased it the elephant. Not surprisingly, UniverSoul's animal suppliers have repeatedly failed to meet the minimum standards for animal care required by the Animal Welfare Act. Apparently, one of the conditions of UniverSoul's state exotic-animal permit is not allowing anyone to ride an exotic animal. Possible penalties for breaking the rules include fines and revocation of permits. Can we vote for both?
Maybe this will teach Bell to limit his elephant rides to Dumbo The Flying Elephant at Disney World.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
After seeing an exhausted and utterly dispirited elephant being forced to give rides all day long at the Indiana State Fair, one visitor wrote us, stating, "[T]his elephant's plight absolutely breaks my heart. … [H]e looks old, tired, thin, and completely miserable. … The sadness in this animal's eyes brought me to tears." Another said, "The pain [in the elephant's eyes] was evident. … [M]y … daughter was reduced to crying so hard at witnessing this that our day was pretty well ruined." Clearly haunted by what she saw, our first tipster added, "I think this elephant is not only a slave, but he's just plain lonely in his misery. He is clearly so terribly heartbroken."
Life on the road is miserable for elephants who are forced to perform at fairs, carnivals, festivals, and circuses. In contrast, for elephants in the wild, each day is filled with traveling, socializing, exploring, swimming, mud-bathing, playing, and foraging. Elephants experience joy, sadness, and fear. Their level of self-awareness continues to amaze researchers worldwide, and it's obvious that this poor elephant who is being dragged around the fair circuit knows exactly what she's missing.
By the way, last year in Indiana, at least 15 children and one adult were injured when an elephant who was being used for rides became startled and stumbled, knocking over the stairway leading to the ride. Several years ago, an elephant grabbed a woman as she was dismounting from a ride and threw her against a tree three times. The woman was in a body brace for three months. And while carrying children on her back at a state fair, an elephant panicked, knocking down and then stepping on the handler. A 3-year-old girl was also injured after falling off the elephant. The list goes on.
Please contact Indiana State Fair officials and ask them to permanently do away with elephant rides.
Last year, Renningers Farmers & Flea Market in Mount Dora, Florida, banned elephant rides after PETA provided evidence of Liebel Family Circus' long list of USDA violations, its history of animal neglect and abuse, and the unavoidable risks posed by elephant rides. Now we are hoping that Daytona Beach, Florida, will follow suit, thanks to footage taken during Liebel's March visit to the city.
In 2005, Liebel Family Circus entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was assessed a civil penalty of $2,885 for multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including failure to provide adequate space and veterinary care for animals, failure to have an experienced elephant handler, and failure to provide a safety barrier between the animals and the public. And it's easy to see why from this footage. Talk about a disturbing picture: An individual who was charged with controlling an elephant named Nosey holds a toddler by one hand and in the other holds a bullhook—a sharp, steel-tipped device that workers use to strike, stab, hook, prod, and intimidate elephants in order to make them obey. Not only that, but at one point Nosey was allowed to pick up a bucket while people were on her back. If she'd decided to throw the bucket, someone could have been seriously injured.
In light of this evidence of dangerous misconduct at Liebel's stop in Daytona Beach, PETA has sent the footage to the city's mayor along with a letter asking him to support legislation to prohibit elephant rides in the city.
In the wild, elephants travel in family groups, and female elephants stay with their mothers for their entire lives. Elephants who are trapped in circuses and forced to live in boxcars and endure years of abuse often become depressed and neurotic. Nosey, Liebel's only elephant, has been with the circus for decades and has already attacked at least one of Liebel's employees. In 2004, Nosey injured a worker, and after you read the worker's affidavit to the USDA, you can't really blame the elephant for her outrage. In the report, the worker recounts the frequent use of electric shock devices on the elephant and details an incident in which a trainer "used the bullhook handle, turned off the lights in the performance ring and beat the elephant. He at the time directed others to take part in that by using other objects such as [a] sledge hammer and shovel handles. At that time, the elephant was staked down by all four legs …." The employee also states that Nosey's attack "was not the first time the elephant had reached or struck out at people who worked at the circus."
Want to help shut down circuses that abuse and neglect animals? Refuse to go and tell your friends and family members to do the same.
Written by Logan Scherer
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.