Abused elephant performs for wedding at Huntington Beach Hyatt Regency resort this weekend despite city prohibition

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Abused elephant performs for wedding at Huntington Beach Hyatt Regency resort this weekend despite city prohibition


October 24, 2014, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – Animal Defenders International (ADI) has asked how an abused elephant was allowed to perform at a wedding ceremony this past Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, despite a city ordinance prohibiting wild animal performances.


The elephant, owned by Have Trunk Will Travel, was used in a wedding ceremony where the bride and groom rode the elephant down a public street and onto the hotel’s property. In 2002 Huntington Beach Council passed Municipal Code Chapter 7.14 which states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to permit the performance of any wild and exotic animal for public entertainment, amusement or benefit on any public or private property within the City of Huntington Beach.”


According to Janeen Laudenback, Huntington Beach Community Services Director, no permits were issued, the City was unaware of the event taking place, and the matter is being investigated. Similarly, the hotel and wedding party may have been unaware that the elephant is one of a group of famously abused elephants who made headlines around the world when ADI released undercover footage of them being violently hit and electric shocked during routine husbandry and training sessions by their owners and trainers at Have Trunk Will Travel.


View ADI’s footage of elephants owned by Have Trunk Will Travel here:


(Broadcast quality footage available upon request.)


This footage was released as the film “Water for Elephants,” starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, and the elephant, Tai, opened in theaters around the world. In the film, Tai is brutally attacked by the circus owner with a bullhook. However, the producers, stars, and trainers were at pains to stress that Tai was trained with kindness, marshmallows, and positive reinforcement. ADI’s undercover footage tells a different story, with real life behind the scenes images of an elephant crying out as she was shocked with a stun gun to force her to do the very tricks that would later appear in the film.


The horrifying images and the suffering at Have Trunk Will Travel have received universal condemnation around the world from veterinary surgeons, elephant experts, zoo industry insiders, and the public. Following their review of this evidence, the boards of Orange County Fair, LA County Fair, Upland Lemon Festival, Santa Ana Zoo, and the cities of Fountain Valley and Sierra Madre all made the decision that they will not include elephant rides at their events.


Jan Creamer, ADI’s President, said: “Huntington Beach had the foresight to enact this important ordinance twelve years ago prohibiting wild animal performances to protect the public and wild animals, and we appreciate the attention they are taking now to get to the bottom of what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.”



About Animal Defenders International


With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.


Huntington Beach ordinance


7.14.010 Purpose and Intent


It is the purpose and intent of the City of Huntington Beach City Council to protect the public against hazards that wild and exotic animals used in performances for entertainment pose to society and to protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment. (3586-12/02)


7.14.020 Performance of Wild or Exotic Animals—Prohibited


It shall be unlawful for any person to permit the performance of any wild and exotic animal for public entertainment, amusement or benefit on any public or private property within the City of Huntington Beach. (3586-12/02)


ADI’s Undercover Investigation of Animal Trainers Have Trunk Will Travel

Animal Defenders International released shocking footage from our 8-week undercover investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel, where elephants used in the movies Water for Elephants, Zookeeper, Britney Spears’ circus video and many other ads, shows and live performances were trained. The footage shows the animals being beaten and electric shocked with stun guns to perform the tricks seen in the movies and other performances, including:


  • Have Trunk Will Travel owners and trainers using stuns guns and beating animals with bull hooks
  • Have Trunk Will Travel boss Kari Johnson viciously striking an elephant
  • A baby elephant being hit over the head and dragged by the trunk
  • Elephants chained by the legs barely able to take one step back and forward (the elephants were being chained from 6:30pm to 6:30am, 12 hours a day)


Click here to see the footage, or visit bit.ly/ADI-HTWTInvestigation


Background – worldwide movement to end use of wild animals in traveling shows

The evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.


In the United States, 45 cities/counties in 21 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. And around the world, hundreds of local ordinances are in place, including in the UK, Europe, and South America.


National restrictions on the use of wild animals, or selected species/uses have been adopted in over 27 countries including: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Malta, Slovakia, Sweden, Portugal, Taiwan, Singapore, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia, Costa Rica, India, Israel and others. Similar laws are being discussed in: the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, and Norway.


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