During an 8-week undercover investigation of elephants used in the movies Water for Elephants and Zookeeper, Animal Defenders International exposed trainers from the company Have Trunk Will Travel using bull hooks, electric shock and even hitting a baby elephant over the head. Next month, those same trainers are scheduled to bring elephant rides to the Nevada County Fair in Northern California. But not if animal rights activists have their say.
Along with Animal Defenders International, The Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE) — located in the heart of Nevada County, CA — is outraged that the Fairground board of directors would bring endangered elephants to a county fair for the purpose of entertainment and is fighting 24/7 to keep elephant rides out of the fair.
Shelley Frost, program manager of CAPE said, “Elephants are majestic, intelligent animals who don’t belong at a fair, providing rides for children. It’s not the humane thing to do.”¯
“It’s also a safety issue to have the elephants at the fair. There will be a bee exhibit and horses at the fair and lots of people making noise. These are things that will be unfamiliar and possibly dangerous to the elephants.”¯
Frost pointed out that several years ago the fairground board wanted to increase sales and decided to try ostrich races. That ended with an accident.
Frost also explained that Have Trunk Will Travel is getting preferential treatment for coming to the fair. Exhibit fees, electrical fees and RV fees have been waived for them, and the fairground is providing 24-hour security. “All this when the rest of the fair has sacrificed budget cuts,”¯ said Frost.
Have Trunk Will Travel counters all of the attacks by ADI and CAPE by saying the undercover video was edited and calling themselves a company that “truly cares about the well-being of elephants.” They also state that they have given tens of thousands of dollars to save Asian elephants through the International Elephant Foundation.
Frost explained this conservation fund is not what is seems: “The group is a sham run by Have Trunk Will Travel, their veterinarian and members from the Ringling Bros. Circus.”
Both CAPE and ADI are asking for the contract with Have Trunk Will Travel to be cancelled immediately. They are also are calling on the public for help. Action from California residents is especially needed.
Here are some ways you can keep the elephant rides from coming to Nevada County Fair:
- Sign the petition: Keep Elephant Abuse Out of California’s Nevada County Fair.
- Attend the July 16 Board meeting at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
- Write a letter to the Nevada County Fairgrounds board of directors, the Mayor of Grass Dan Miller, Mayor of Nevada City Duane Strawser, the Board of Supervisors, the County Sheriff and Governor Jerry Brown.