[UPDATED with TV Star's Plea to End Santa Ana Zoo Rides:] OC Fair Begins and So Does Elephant Protest

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UPDATE, JULY 19, 7:29 A.M.: Constance Marie played Angie Lopez on ABC's George Lopez sitcom, and she's now Regina Vasquez on ABC Family's Switched at Birth.

She's using her celebrity to issue this plea to Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido: Fire Have Trunk Will Travel as the elephant ride contractor at the city-owned Santa Ana Zoo.

What follows is the letter Marie sent Pulido via People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is also among the groups trying to stop Have Trunk Will Travel's elephant rides at the current Orange County Fair:

My friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have just shown me the shocking video footage recently released by Animal Defenders International showing trainers from Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) repeatedly beating elephants. Every swing of the trainers' bullhooks and jab with the electric prods horrified me, and seeing a baby elephant scream in pain each time someone jabbed a sharp bullhook into his mouth was simply heartbreaking. I'm sure that compassionate people everywhere are having the same reaction as they realize what these intelligent, sensitive animals endure as workers intimidate them into giving rides or performing silly tricks. Yet the city of Santa Ana has yet to change its plans to allow HTWT to bring the elephants back next season. I urge to you do the right thing and stop the cruel elephant rides from returning to the Santa Ana Zoo in the fall.

I can't imagine any justification for allowing these rides to continue, particularly after the release of this video. The elephant rides hurt Santa Ana's reputation and send a terrible message to the children who are the main target of the rides. I have no doubt that as a parent yourself, you know firsthand how sensitive kids are to the plight of animals, and if they knew how these magnificent animals were beaten to force them into submission, their hearts would break.

I hope to hear that you will immediately make the compassionate decision to stop the rides at the zoo once and for all.

ORIGINAL POST, JULY 15, 11 A.M.: The Orange County Fair begins in Costa Mesa today and so do the protests against the fair's elephant rides.

More specifically, animal activists have a problem with the Perris contractor who provides the elephants, Have Trunk Will Travel, which has also drawn heat for its similar Santa Ana Zoo ride and alleged mistreatment of the elephant star of recent movie Water for Elephants.



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A familiar site at the Orange County Fair. Is it abuse?
Members of Animal Defenders International (ADI), Animal Protection, Rescue League (APRL), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other advocates plan to gather at the fairgrounds entrance at 6:30 this evening to peacefully protest and educate fair-goers about the alleged elephant abuse.

It was ADI that recently released an undercover video that features 42-year-old Asian elephant Tai and other Water for Elephants elephants being electric shocked with a stun gun and jabbed and hit will bull hooks during their training in 2005 at Have Trunk Will Travel's Perris ranch.

Based on that video and other evidence, members of ADI and other animal activists filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles last month against Have Trunk Will Travel's owners and elephant trainer, who have repeatedly denied ever inflicting any abuse on their elephants.

Animal activists recently showed the video to the president of a fair in San Diego. He agreed to look into the abuse allegations, but the Have Trunk Will Travel elephant ride continued there, according to activists.

They received a similar reception from Orange County Fair CEO Steve Beazley, according to a City News Service report. Beazley apparently met with ADI reps and came away saying that while he respects the organization's opinion about not wanting animals kept in captivity, the fair has not had a problem with Have Trunk Will Travel in the 27 years the company has run the fair ride.

"To break that relationship would take more than what the elephant protesters are running out there,'' Beazley is reported have said, before adding there's no record of Have Trunk Will Travel being investigated by any agency regarding its training.

Nonetheless, Change.org animals blogger Laura Goldman, who recently posted petitions online aimed at ending the elephant ride at Santa Ana Zoo, tells the Weekly she has more than 6,000 signatures on a Change.org petition that aims to stop the rides at the San Diego and Orange County fairs.

Here is the controversial video posted by ADI:

Movie star electric shocked from Animal Defenders on Vimeo.

Here's shaky video of a family enjoying the OC Fair ride:



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15 comments
Fallenpixie1
Fallenpixie1

To all of the people on here that have said animal activists are extreme, you're wrong. What's extreme is the way these animals are being treated. And yes, it may be hard for you to understand how humans can show so much compassion for animals, but they can't really defend themselves. Bringing up the economy or war is irrelevant and if you 'heart' elephants why would you turn a blind eye to video evidence of animal cruelty towards them? How ignorant of you. Isn't it funny how the ones that are so quick to judge or open their mouths are usually the least informed? The video footage speaks for itself. You can't pick and choose which parts of reality you accept as true when it's right in front of your face and all over the Internet. Wake up!

Next
Next

So why didn't this has-been actress write a letter to the Orange County Fair, or directly to Have Trunk Will Travel if she was truly concerned about the elephants?  They are the ones who have the elephant rides.  What's the point of writing to a Zoo that doesn't even have the rides going on right now?Oh that's right, she isn't thinking for herself, she's just parroting what she's being told by animal activists.She hasn't had any real work since the George Lopez show, and now is trying to get publicity for herself so she can get anyone to watch her new show.  That explains it.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I do not care to have any part of cruelty to any animal or human being. however, it seems to me that people seem to care more about animals than fellow humans. The fact that people do not seem to care, unless their favorite celebrity gets involved is also sad, some well meaning celebrities have become drawn in to lies or exaggerations just for headlines... (bad or good, any publicity is good)

Tanya Petrovna
Tanya Petrovna

It's a horrendous experience for elephants to travel in trailers and stand most of the day on hard surfaces. Going in circles is crazy making, old school, combine that with bullhook and cruel training methods to get them to do such is ludacris. Moving forward use the research wisely and not for financial gain solely, this would entail stopping wild animals for use in entertainment. I've not been to the OC Fair for years because of this cruelty. Please do something else. 

Mattrossell
Mattrossell

The video in the article focuses on the abuse of Tai, but the company Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) has 5 elephants and this video link below shows more violence of the other elephants being hit, 'hooked' and shocked.

http://www.ad-international.or...

The owner of HTWT admits that it is her and her trainers in the video, and in their statement they say they stand by their training methods. The video speaks for itself. It is not an "extreme" position to believe that shocking and beating elephants is wrong and shouldn't be supported.

VJR
VJR

What's next?  Ponies?  What about camels at the Santa Ana Zoo?  Give it a rest people and find a better cause, hmm?  Like stopping the war or even better fixing your economy.

Jkavvy14
Jkavvy14

I heart elephants's comment unfortunately demostrates all that is wrong with the US public. Ignorance runs high when it comes to circus animal welfare. I had no idea up until 1 year ago that this type of abuse existed. Why do people constantly label those who speak up for animals as extremists? If people attend the fair they are putting money in the pockets of the organization responsible for the abuse. Given the OC is such a well-to-do area, I am surprised by the poor response on behalf of the fair organizers. Google "animal abuse and circuses" and you will shocked by the frequency and severity of what you find. It is 2011....and it is time to end the use of animals for entertainment.

Mo
Mo

While walking elephants in itself is not cruel, please look at the whole picture. Is this elephant Tai? She was born in the wild and captured, taken away from her mother and herd at age 3. She was trained using bullhooks and electric prods to her ears. She has been trained to do unnatural tricks like standing on her head. There is nothing natural about her life, she lives in captivity. This is the price she pays for your enjoyment of riding her.

I heart elephants
I heart elephants

Frickin' animal freaks need to go away.  If they don't want to ride the elephants, they don't have to but stop harassing the other people who do.Elephants walking is a normal behavior and is not cruel.  The training these elephants got has already been looked into by several legitimate animal protection and professional animal organizations, and it has been determined that the training is within accepted guidelines.Steve Beazley is right.  The relationship the fair has with the elephant people for 27 years should carry a lot of weight and command respect.  Thank goodness there are still people who will stand up to these animal extremist bullies.Now that I've seen this, I will definitely go to the fair and make a point of riding the elephants.

Rose
Rose

Um, most animal rights activists also do work in human rights as well. These two groups are not mutually exclusive. To believe so is extremely closed-minded and bigoted.

Rose
Rose

Elephants are not domesticated animals like ponies or horses. I really think you should educate yourself about the species and the horrendous abuse that these creatures (and others) suffer when they are put into circuses. Do not keep your circle of compassion limited to those that only walk on two feet; all beings can suffer and feel pain.

Jkavvy14
Jkavvy14

Also, make sure to watch the video of the "training" sessions used at Have Trunk Will Travel, the organization providing the elephant rides before you decide to attend.

Rose
Rose

Unfortunately, a lot of the people here have demonstrated their selfishness. Instead of thinking about the suffering of the elephants they have decided to say "Haha! I'm gonna show those crazy animal rights people! Even though they aren't the ones suffering, I'll show them, NYAH!" It's a very closed-minded, child-like mindset but what can you expect from people who are willfully ignorant and decide to limit their compassion to human animals only.

Alex2757
Alex2757

People with the "if someone has a problem with X, I'm going to do X twice as much" mentality are the ones with a screw loose. You can go ride the elephants, and people have the right to protest. Grow up.

DL8723
DL8723

Seriously, you say Elephants are not domesticated like horses and ponies??? That just shows how dumb you people really are! You don't think that there are wild horses and ponies!? There are wild dogs for christ sake, but not all animals are wild. Such as these elephants that are domesticated you idiot... For over 25 years! They are taken care of and loved by Have Trunk Will Travel better than you probably take care of or love yourself! All of you PETA and whatever the hell activist group you belong to are freaking idots!

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