Orange County Fair Elephant Ride is Over

The Orange County Fair Board, facing a crowd of more than 100 that included many animal advocates today, voted to end elephant rides.

The news was cheered by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has sought bans on performing pachyderms around the country, and disdained by Have Trunk Will Travel, the Perris-based contractor that has been supplying the elephants and running the ride at the fair for 25 years.

The decision is doubly bad Orange County news for Have Trunk Will Travel in light of the City of Santa Ana ending the same company's elephant rides at Santa Ana Zoo in December, ending a relationship with the contractor that had also lasted more than 20 years. City officials, who had been pressed by PETA and others to investigate Have Trunk Will Travel abuse claims, claimed it was new Association of Zoos and Aquariums safety standards calling for minimal touching between humans and animals that caused the action.

The Fair Board heard from members of the crowd who were pretty evenly split on the issue before voting 7-1 against renewing the Have Trunk, Will Travel contract, with chairman Dave Ellis dissenting.

"PETA applauds the Orange County Fair Board for following the example set by the Santa Ana Zoo and making the compassionate, safety-conscious decision to sever ties with Have Trunk Will Travel, a company that has been documented abusing elephants by shocking them with electric prods in the belly and genital area and striking them with bullhooks--fireplace poker-like goads that are used to beat, jab, and hook elephants in sensitive areas of their bodies," reads a statement forwarded to the Weekly by David W. Pearle, the Norfolk, Virginia, based advocacy group's senior media coordinator.

It continues, "Elephants beaten in order to force them to perform are more prone to rampaging, so by canceling these cruel and dangerous elephant rides, the Orange County Fair Board is ensuring that no parents or children will be injured in such an incident at the fair."

The abuse claims mostly stem from a video Animal Defenders International released last year that is said to show Tai, a 42-year-old Asian elephant from the Reece Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson movie Water for Elephants, as well as other elephants from the film, being electric shocked with a stun gun and jabbed and hit will bull hooks during training in 2005 at Have Trunk Will Travel's Perris ranch.

Have Trunk Will Travel co-founder Gary Johnson has repeatedly denied animals were abused while making Water for Elephants, saying, "Tai was never hit in any way at all. We had really mixed emotions about even doing this film because it's pretty graphic with the elephant, and there's some so-called beating scenes in there. We didn't want to send a wrong message."

His company has steadfastly denied using electrical devices to train elephants. Twentieth Century Fox claimed it took every step to ensure animals were not harmed in the making of Water for Elephants. Finding the video disturbing, the film studio pointed out the training in question was not for Water for Elephants.

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9 comments
CARPETBAGGER
CARPETBAGGER

yeah but the Orange Juice Blog just announced that Julio Perez will give piggy-back rides instead!!

Kinda the same thing!

Prancingpalfrey
Prancingpalfrey

FUCKING PETA PEOPLE AND THEIR FUCKING RIDICULOUS CLAIMS!!!! has anyone ever done any research on Ingird, the founder of Peta?! If it were up to her, you wouldn't be allowed to have a pet GOLDFISH! She is a nutjob, with nothing better to do but brainwash ignorant people into thinking that all people that own animals, from a dog or cat to an exotic, are evil bastards and should have their animals taken away and "freed." These elephants live a phenomenal life, with people that truly care about them!! Anyone who has ever been around an animal, and large ones more than little ones, know that sometimes a discipline needs to be given. This is NOT ABUSE!! I got spanked as a kid, that doesn't mean i was abused!! Sometimes an animal needs to be told in its own language that it can't do something. Elephants are INCREDIBLY smart animals and they learn very quickly!! POINT IS, NO ONE AT HAVE TRUNK WILL TRAVEL HAS ABUSED ANY OF THEIR ANIMALS!! To think so, would be ignorant!! 

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Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

These animals are extremely gentle unless provoked and unless they can tell that something is not quite right with the person that is in front of them, I had someone I know tell me that they believed that elephants should be beaten and shocked into compliance and I could not disagree more, because doing that is a form of torture. This is why we do not get along at times and why I want to stay away from people like that. I guess they also think that humans should be treated that way too sometimes.

Sam Snyder
Sam Snyder

This is a shame that animals are used in such a coarse way and to top that off they are abused is unconscionable! If true, I hope the people responsible are found guilty of animal abuse and are given 3-5 in State prison. Now that the man is losing his lively hood here comes the unintended consequences....What happens to elephants?????

JB
JB

This is good news.  I'll miss being able to be just a few yards away from the elephants -- who are among the most beautiful creatures in the world -- but Kitty and whatever the other elephant's name was (Daisy? I think) never looked too happy being led around that pen with people on their backs for something like 10 hours a day. 

cook
cook

Next,

FREE the COWS and CHICKENS

Guest
Guest

I was there and only saw 1 person from PETA, several concerned citizens discussing liability issues and several other organizations, including one - ADI who provided video showing beatings and high voltage shocks. 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Oh great... So now those elephants are going to be stuck in hot ass Perris CA in July where it gets into the triple digits and the avg temp in Costa Mesa is in the High 70s.. 

Real compassionate people... 

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