Elephants giving rides at Kern County Fair were abused, says Animal Defenders International
September 15, 2014, BAKERSFIELD, CA – Elephants supplied for rides at the Kern County Fair have been filmed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) being beaten and electric shocked with stun guns by their owners Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) during training. ADI and their local supporters will be outside the Fair on opening day, this Wednesday, September 17, asking the public not to pay for the elephant rides.
Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We are appealing to the public not to pay to ride abused elephants. Paying for the rides pays for this appalling and unacceptable cruelty. We believe that once people see how these animals suffer behind the scenes, they will not endorse such behavior and hope that event organizers will take a responsible position and end the rides.”
ADI has released video evidence showing the owners and trainers at Have Trunk Will Travel beating and shocking their elephants during routine husbandry and training (http://bit.ly/ADI-HTWTInvestigation). The disturbing footage shows:
- Owners and trainers using stun guns and beating animals with bull hooks
- HTWT 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)
HTWT has confirmed that the video depicts their staff and their elephants, and stated publicly that they stand by their training methods.
Last year, ADI presented our evidence to the Kern County Fair Board, and recently we presented more than 2,600 signatures from residents calling for the elephant rides to be canceled. Despite receiving the clear evidence of abuse and a massive community outcry, the Kern County Fair Board chose to bring elephants from HTWT back again.
Since ADI released its footage, HTWT was cited by the USDA in 2012, while providing rides at the Central States Fair in Rapid City, SD, for failing to keep a resting elephant “under the direct control and supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced animal handler.” HTWT is no longer certified under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose new guidelines advise limited contact between humans and elephants in line with modern elephant husbandry.
Elephant rides have recently been abandoned by several events after responsible board members viewed the evidence, including the Orange County, Los Angeles County, and 2014 San Diego County Fairs, the city of Fountain Valley, CA, and Santa Ana Zoo.
This Wednesday, September 17, 2014, local supporters of ADI will be outside the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, California urging visitors to enjoy the fair but not support the elephant rides.
What: Elephant ride outreach at the Kern County Fair
When: Wednesday, September 17, 2014, from1:00 pm-7:00 pm
Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 South P St, Bakersfield, CA 93307
Film and photographs are available from ADI.
Watch video footage from ADI’s undercover investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel: http://bit.ly/ADI-HTWTInvestigation
Learn more about “No Fun For Elephants,” ADI’s campaign to end the use of elephants for rides, performances and appearances at public events: http://bitly.com/NoFunForElephants
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.