“Another email that warrants being shared, so please send to friends etc.”
The Nevada County Fair board of directors failed to do the right thing a second time, by voting, 8-1, at its meeting on July 16, 2013, to retain its contract for elephant rides. More than 70 people testified for more than three hours, with about 75% of the speakers opposing the rides. Only five of those who spoke out against the rides were not Nevada County residents.
PAWS‘ director of science, research and advocacy, Catherine Doyle, presented testimony at the meeting, including a letter signed by elephant experts and conservationists from around the world who oppose using elephants for rides.
The Fair board set the tone of the meeting, when it stated that it would only consider new evidence on the topics of safety, the use of animals in entertainment, and the reputation of the company providing the rides, Have Trunk Will Travel.
It was obvious that the board had little intention of changing its position, and it was made clear that the number of people opposing the rides would not be a factor in their decision.
Sign Petitions Here Please:-
In the end, the Fair board chose to dismiss undercover video of Have Trunk Will Travel caught by Animal Defenders International that shows the company’s owner and employees viciously striking elephants with bullhooks and using an illegal electric shock device during training.
To us at PAWS, it is unfathomable that anyone could watch the video and not find the treatment of the elephants reprehensible.
“The board looked long and hard at the video and the testimony,” said Fair board president Tom Browning. “We feel they (Have Trunk Will Travel) have a very good operation…this is the mindset of the board.” “Bull shit…they obviously didn’t see the video I did, of baby elephants trunk being held & pulled to make him conform to commands. They didn’t see an electric pod being used on an elephant who screamed out in pain, as she was forced to stand on her head! This is appalling, this board is anything but fair!”
Training for rides involves violently breaking and training elephants, and controlling them
Trained by force, fear & abuse
through dominance and fear of pain for the rest of their lives. Handlers use the bullhook – a steel rod resembling a fireplace poker – to routinely prod, hook and strike elephants so they comply with every command.
Not only did the board reject clear-cut evidence of abusive treatment, it failed to address the fact that the Fair lacks an emergency preparedness plan specific to an elephant escape. PAWS had requested various safety documents pertaining to emergency procedures, which the Fair was unable to produce.
Though many members of the Fair board claimed to have researched elephant rides, they opted to accept only information that supported their already established position, and the information that members presented was often inaccurate.
PAWS is working together with local organizations to plan an educational public demonstration when the Fair takes place in Grass Valley, California, on August 7-11.This will be a peaceful protest that is suitable for all ages. We urge you to attend (invite family and friends!) and show your support and compassion for the elephants.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be providing more details on our efforts, so stay tuned. Mark those dates on your calendar now. The fairgrounds are located approximately 70 miles north of Sacramento.
Letter signed by elephant experts and conservationist:-
July 12, 2013
Statement by elephant professionals in opposition to elephant rides PAWS has invited professionals in science, conservation and elephant care to join us in endorsing the following statement that addresses the use of
elephants for rides.
We, the undersigned, are opposed to the use of elephants for rides at county fairs, carnivals, circuses, zoos and other recreational activities, for the following reasons:
- It is wrong to allow our children to think that elephants used for rides are living an acceptable life, when evidence for the opposite is overwhelming.
- Reducing elephants to the equivalent of a carnival ride distorts the public’s understanding of elephants and of their endangered status in the wild.
- Elephants are highly intelligent, curious and socially complex animals who possess a range of emotions, and are empathetic and self-aware. It is appalling to see these astonishing animals reduced to walking in small circles for hours as they give rides.
- Elephants used for rides were traumatically taken from their mothers as calves. Female elephants, those typically used for rides, would naturally remain with their families for life.
- Elephants used for rides are deprived of what is natural to them, including the ability to move freely in a vast natural environment, to be part of a family and extended social network, and to have choice and control over their lives.
- Elephants are wild animals. They are not domesticated, so they retain their innate wild natures, which are often brutally suppressed.
- The extreme training that is necessary to dominate and control elephants for providing customers with “safe” rides is abusive. It is well documented that elephants are trained to comply with commands through use of the menacing weapon called the bullhook and fear of painful punishment.
- Elephants used for rides are under a great deal of stress from being held in conditions to which they are unsuited, including prolonged chaining, confinement in cramped trucks and pens, extensive travel, and ongoing threat of punishment.
- There are many documented incidents in which elephants have “snapped,” and have injured or killed people.
- The interests and well-being of elephants used for rides will always be secondary to the profits the company needs to maintain itself.
- Elephant rides do not contribute to the conservation of elephants, or to an awareness of the plight of wild elephants.
- On the contrary, elephant rides may divert funds from genuine, and deeply important, conservation work.
- Conservation is a noble cause and it is demeaned by unethical companies that use it as a public relations ploy to distract the public from this inhumane, unsafe and outdated use of elephants.
- It is wrong to keep alive an outdated practice that we know is brutal for elephants.
Given current knowledge, it is unjustifiable to use elephants for recreational rides, and it is wrong to allow elephants to suffer just so they can entertain us.
The times are changing. More and more county fairs and other community events are eschewing elephant
rides due to public safety and humane concerns.
We advise event organizers to reject elephant rides, and we strongly urge the public to refrain from riding elephants, to oppose elephant rides if they are proposed for a community event, and to support legitimate conservation organizations that are making a real difference for elephants.
Ed Stewart President and Co-founder, PAWS
Cynthia Moss, Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants (Kenya)
Joyce H. Poole, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Co-Director, ElephantVoices
Petter Granli, Co-Founder, Co-Director, ElephantVoices
Peter Stroud, Independent Zoological Consultant, Member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission Asian Elephant Specialist Group
Phil Ensley, DVM, DACZM, Former associate veterinarian with the San Diego Zoo
W. Keith Lindsay, Ph.D., Conservation Biologist & Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Amboseli
Elephant Research Project (Kenya)
David Hancocks, Former Director at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, Seattle’s
Woodland Park Zoo, Australia’s Werribee Open Range Zoo and Melbourne Zoo
Scott Blais, International Elephant Consultant
Carol Buckley, founder and CEO of Elephant Aid International and founding director of The lephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
John W. Freeze, Retired Animal Husbandry Supervisor (Elephants), North Carolina Zoological Park
Gary Kuehn, DVM, Former veterinarian with the Los Angeles Zoo Henry Melvyn Richardson, DVM
Will Travers OBE, CEO The Born Free Foundation, UK and Born Free USA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2013
CONTACT: Catherine Doyle, PAWS Director of Science, Research & Advocacy,
Nevada County Fair Lacks Sufficient Safety Precautions for Elephant Rides San Andreas, Calif.
The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) contends that the Nevada County Fair does not have adequate information or an action plan to protect the public from the serious risks associated with elephant rides
The controversial rides will be offered for the first time at this year’s Fair, August 7-11, in Grass Valley, California.
“The Fair has been lulled into complacency by false assurances that elephant rides are safe, when that is the farthest thing from the truth,” said PAWS president
, Ed Stewart
, who has more than 32 years of experience caring for elephants. “Our intention is not to discomfit the Fair board, but to inform the public that elephant rides pose a serious risk, and that there is insufficient preparation on the part of the Fair should an incident occur.”
For example, there is no emergency plan that is specific to an elephant escape, a situation for which most law enforcement agencies are unprepared and unequipped. In fact, the Fair’s evacuation plan calls for preventing people from entering buildings, the very places that might provide safe haven during an escape.
Other safety and security documents the Fair was unable to produce were:
- An elephant escape and recapture plan provided by Have Trunk Will Travel, the Southern California company providing the rides – Without a plan, there would be no communication and coordination between the elephant ride provider and the local first responders in the event of an escape.
- Have Trunk Will Travel’s protocol for securing elephants when they are not giving rides, during the daytime and overnight – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited the company last year for failure to safely handle an elephant at a county fair in South Dakota. The elephant was left unmonitored while she was rested from giving rides, creating a risk to the public.
- A history of Tuberculosis test results for all elephants owned by Have Trunk Will Travel, including those to be used for rides –Elephants can carry tuberculosis, which is transmissible to humans. Due to the prevalence of the disease in elephants and risks to public health, the USDA requires that all exhibitors test their elephants annually for tuberculosis.
In addition, the Fair did not produce veterinary records for the elephants to be used for rides, which would show whether they are suffering from diseases, such as arthritis and foot infections, commonly caused by inadequate captive conditions. Chaining and cramped confinement – during travel to the Fair and at the Fair – would exacerbate these conditions and negatively impact the elephants’ welfare.
PAWS has long monitored and documented the numerous incidents involving elephants used for rides that have resulted in human injuries and deaths. In 2000, PAWS co-founder, the late Pat Derby, testified before a Congressional committee on this serious safety issue.
“We are urging the Nevada County Fair to cancel the elephant rides because they are unsafe, outdated and inhumane,” said Stewart. “For over a century the Fair has been successful without elephant rides – and the serious risk and controversy that come along with them.”