ADI New Video: Elephant Training At Have Trunk Will Travel – No Fun For Elephants

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Animals in entertainment

Animal Defenders International’s undercover investigations go behind the scenes, exposing the abuses wherever animals are forced to perform, including movies, circuses, advertisements, special events and rides. In fact, many of the companies provide animals across this spectrum of entertainment. For example, in Perris, California, ADI captured on video the trainers and owners of Have Trunk Will Travel violently beating and electric shocking their elephants in training sessions and routine husbandry.

These elephants including Tai and Rosie, the famed movie stars of ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘Zookeeper’, are also hired out for weddings, elephant rides at county fairs, TV ads, and even forced to travel cross-country to do ridiculous tricks in the circus. You can help ADI shine a spotlight on and end the abuse of animals in entertainment. ADI conducts letter writing and email campaigns to legislators, studios, advertising firms and local newspaper editors, and organizes outreach events when the circus comes to town. Find our current campaigns and how you can help detailed below. Together, we will make a difference!

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Out Of Control ADI Parliamentary Briefing: Wild Animals in Circuses PDF Document:-

Elephant Training at Have Trunk Will Travel

Published on 21 Mar 2013

ADI investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel, based in California, which shows trainers and owners violently beating and electric shocking their elephants in training sessions and routine husbandry.

Support our campaign to end the use of animals in entertainment…

No Fun For Elephants!

PLEASE WATCH & SHARE this incredible new video “No Fun for Elephants” narrated by Bob Barker and help ADI end the use of elephants giving rides at fairs, performing in circuses, and making appearances at parades and other events in the United States. ADI is sending copies of the DVD, which features our undercover footage, to fair and event organizers all over the country. PLEASE HELP ADI STOP THE SUFFERING – Donate now to help this campaign and our investigations.

Get involved – send a polite email or letter to event organizers in your neighborhood, urging them to stop offering elephant rides. Email usa@ad-international.orgfor information.

Click here to learn more.

Donate now to help this campaign and our investigations

No Fun For Elephants!

Published on 28 Feb 2013

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has launched the first nationwide initiative in the U.S. about the use of elephants giving rides or making appearances at public events. At the heart of the campaign is a new DVD narrated by Emmy award winning TV host Bob Barker entitled ‘No Fun For Elephants,’ featuring harrowing undercover footage from inside elephant training facilities in California, as well as abuse of an elephant on tour by a Texas-owned company. The ‘No Fun For Elephants’ DVD is being mailed to event organizers across the U.S., including board members of county fairs, renaissance fairs and organizers of town parades, urging them to adopt a humane ‘no elephant rides or performances’ policy, in view of the suffering these animals endure. 

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Portland’s New Baby Elephant Belongs To ‘Have Trunk Will Travel’

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A baby elephant born at Portland’s zoo last week may be fated to a life with a controversial travelling elephant show that rents out pachyderms to the entertainment industry, stages circus like events and offers elephant rides at $500 an hour, The Seattle Times has found.

The newborn calf is the property of a private company, Have Trunk Will Travel, of Perris, Calif., which assumes ownership of the newborn within a month.

portland baby zoo

Last Friday’s birth of a 300-pound Asian female at the Oregon Zoo sparked public celebration and generated national news. The zoo industry promptly declared the event a victory in its quest to preserve and propagate an endangered species.

But the newborn calf doesn’t legally belong to the Portland zoo. Instead, it is the property of a private company, Have Trunk Will Travel, of Perris, Calif., which assumes ownership of the newborn within a month, according to a contract between the Oregon Zoo and the company that was obtained by The Times.

Oregon Zoo officials quietly cut a deal to give up the second, fourth and sixth offspring between Rose-Tu, owned by the zoo, and Tusko, a prolific male owned by Have Trunk Will Travel. Last week’s birth was the second offspring between the pair.

The Times’ discovery of the breeding contract highlights the dark side of elephant captivity, in which zoos are desperate to breed more elephants at any cost. The Times reported this week in a two-part series, Glamour Beasts, that elephants are dying out in America’s zoos. Zoos have depended on elephants as crowd pleaser’s and revenue generators, but for every elephant born, on average two others die, a Times analysis has found.

Since 2005, the industry’s trade group, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), has aggressively promoted breeding efforts to counteract declines in captive elephant populations. Just 288 elephants remain inside 78 U.S. accredited zoos.

Kari Johnson, who co-owns the business with her husband, Gary, confirmed Monday that Have Trunk Will Travel owns legal rights to the newborn under a contract signed with the Oregon Zoo in 2005. Details of the newborn’s future have not been worked out, she said.

We are just thrilled,” Johnson said. “We’ll go for a visit soon. I just want to hug her.” “I wonder how long it will be before she is being forced to perform, not much older than the little one in the video?”

Hova Najarian, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Zoo in Portland, initially denied knowledge of the contract, saying Friday the unnamed newborn “is here for life.”

After The Times provided a copy of the contract, zoo officials responded with a statement:

The contract is valid. As per the agreement, official designation of ownership takes effect after the calf has lived 30 days. Once that happens, the Oregon Zoo will be in discussion with Have Trunk Will Travel regarding ownership, and it is the zoo’s intent to retain Rose-Tu’s calf.”

At a Tuesday morning press conference, zoo director Kim Smith said the zoo is negotiating with the company to take ownership of the calf. She expects the calf to live at the zoo permanently.

But under terms of the contract, the zoo does not have the power to keep the elephant if Have Trunk Will Travel wants to take possession.

The contract, signed in June 2005, stipulated that Have Trunk Will Travel would transfer their male elephant, Tusko, to the Oregon Zoo. Records show that Tusko, now 40, arrived the following month; he remains at the zoo.

Because elephant gestation takes 20 to 22 months, breeding males may stay at zoos for many years.

Have Trunk Will Travel owns five Asian elephants, ages 27 to 47. In 2010, its 4-year-old Asian male succumbed to the fast-acting elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV), which may spread by contact and kills only elephants. “The baby that died was called JP, he was the fourth baby elephant to be born at Have Trunk Will Travel, Rose-Tu his mum, was not able to conceive naturally, so JP’s birth was achieved through artificial insemination. 

The company has generated controversy over its 30-year history for its use of chains and bullhookslong-handled, clawed-end training tools used to discipline elephants and train them to perform tricks. “I Think they mean force them to do tricks, no elephant in the wild stands on it’s trunk or hind legs (except when mating) I find it appalling that these amazing animals can be treated so poorly in captivity when there are so few wild ones left. We should not keep them incarcerated in zoo’s etc. Captive elephants can’t go back to the wild, but they can go to a sanctuary that is the closet to their natural habitat…

“PAWS Sanctuary would be heaven for any captive animal, especially for elephants to live in. The elephant habitat at ARK 2000 provides the elephants with hundreds of acres of varied natural terrain to roam, lakes to bathe in, and state-of-the-art elephant barns equipped with heated stalls and therapeutic Jacuzzis.”

Have Trunk Will Travel faces mounting criticism for offering elephant rides at regional fairs and zoos. “It takes a split second for an elephant to turn…probably because they have had enough of being jabbed & poked, forced to do degrading tricks that are detrimental to their health…so they loose it, & lash out! But as usual there will have to be an accident where someone gets hurt; before something can be done about it!”

Kari Johnson said the company’s elephant rides at wedding events is a fast-growing revenue stream. “My God, is there nothing these people aren’t prepared to do for $$$$ How degrading for the largest land animal on earth to have to do! With a mass just over 5 kg (11 lb), elephant brains are larger than those of any other land animal. A wide variety of behaviours associated with intelligence have been attributed to elephants, including those associated with grief, making music, art, altruism, play, use of tools, compassion and self-awareness.”

“Imagine the groom carried high atop an elephant as friends and family dance around him,” the company’s website reads. “The elephants are beautifully decorated and are accustomed to taking part in Indian weddings.”

The company has also provided elephants for such films as “Operation Dumbo Drop,” “Larger Than Life” “George of the Jungle,” “Jungle Book” and “Evan Almighty.”

Have Trunk Will Travel practices unprotected contact with elephants, using bull-hooks to control the animals. The practices are prohibited at most zoos. Even so, the company is accredited by the AZA. “To train an elephant to do circus tricks, it has to be hands on, with a bull hook & an electric shocker…how do you think they get them to do the tricks? Watch the video below to find out!

As a result, the travelling show is free to breed its elephants and exchange off spring with most U.S. zoos.

Tusko’s first calf with Rose-Tu was born in August 2008, a male named Sumudra. After the delivery, Rose-Tu went into a “frenzy,” zoo officials said, and stepped on her newborn. “Is there any wonder? Captive elephants giving birth have many people surrounding them, the mothers feet are usually chained up so she can’t move around, to ease herself whilst in labour. Elephants are very clever, clever enough to know the calf is going to be taken, thus getting mad & frustrated; I doubt she stepped on her baby on purpose!”

Zoo keepers quickly rescued Sumudra. They believed the first-time mother, born at the zoo in 1994, was frightened and unfamiliar with the birthing process. Mother and son reunited without incident. “Exactly, every first time mum needs calm surroundings, room to move around to ease the pain etc. She will have been scared & in a great deal of pain, having a baby is not a spectator sport…they don’t need our interference in the wild to successfully raise babies, they know better than humans do what their baby needs. But typical humans think they know what is best!”

After Friday’s birth, keepers put the female newborn in a rope harness in case they needed to quickly pull her away from her mother. But Rose-Tu and her daughter bonded smoothly, officials said.

In the wild, mother and daughter live together for life. “Yet, in captivity, this baby elephant can be taken from her mother after only a month..imagine how she is going to feel, losing her baby…well, how would you feel?”

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“This is what that new baby elephant has to look forward to, at Have Trunk Will Travel…listen to the elephants cry out in pain as they are given electric shocks. See how hard they are hit with the bull-hooks  for doing nothing wrong!! Watch how the little baby has his trunk held, whilst the bull hook goes under his chin…It’s just heartbreaking !! I don’t know how they have the cheek to say they truly care for them, on their web site”

Have Trunk Will Travel Elephant Abuse

Uploaded on 23 Aug 2011

Everything in this video was filmed at Have Trunk Will Travel, of Perris, California. HTWT supplies trained elephants for movies, advertising, personal appearances  elephant rides, fairs & other public appearances.

This video is courtesy of Animal Defenders International

“Have Trunk Will Travel in my opinion is nothing more than a circus for rent…take a look at their webpage….

Read their Mission on their home page…family, truly cares, health & welfare….please…After seeing the above video, then reading their mission…I fell out my wheelchair laughing…because it’s a joke!!”

Animal group urges fair to cancel elephant rides

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A Southern California animal welfare group has asked the Kern County Fair Board to end elephant rides at the fair, saying the Have Trunk Will Travel company that provides them abuses the animals and will put fairgoers at risk.

An email sent to the Kern County Fair Board by Animal Defenders International includes, with the request to terminate the Have Trunk contract, a video showing company staff using staves and stun guns to beat and zap the large animals while training them to stand on their forelegs, balance on platforms and do other circus tricks.


“We think that bringing abused elephants into a crowded space like the Kern County Fair is a potential recipe for disaster,” said Matt Rossell, campaigns director for Animal Defenders International. “Based on the clear video evidence, these animals are being abused.”

But Kari Johnson, co-owner with her husband, Gary, of Have Trunk Will Travel, said the video that ADI states was shot in 2005 is “not representative of our training practices.”

Have Trunk has not changed its training practices since 2005, she said, but the video is a carefully edited creation that takes the incidents in question completely out of context with the purpose of making Have Trunk look bad.

“Its so powerful because it’s visual,” she said.

Despite that argument, groups like ADI have been successful in convincing other fairs and zoos to cancel elephant rides provided by Have Trunk Will Travel.

The Santa Ana Zoo ended elephant rides in December after 25 years, in part because new standards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums call for animal handlers to minimize the time they spend in the same space as the massive animals, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In March the board of the Orange County Fair voted to end its relationship with the Johnsons and their business and terminate elephant rides at the fair, according to the Orange County Register.

Kern County Fair CEO Mike Olcott said he has decided to continue the elephant rides as planned when the local fair opens Wednesday morning. “I researched it and everything is OK,” he said.

The group has been providing elephant rides at the Kern County Fair for 10 years, Olcott said, and there has never been a problem. The fair has a contract with Have Trunk and, Olcott said, he believes it is too late to cancel the deal for this year.

But one member of the fair board, Mark Salvaggio, has called for Olcott to bring the decision to the fair board.

In an email to Olcott early Thursday afternoon, Salvaggio said he was “troubled over the questions” raised by the ADI email. He asked Olcott to add an item to the board’s Monday agenda allowing discussion and action on termination of the contract.

Olcott said he does not plan to put the item on the board agenda because agendas are released 10 days prior to the meeting and it is too late to add something to it.

Members of the public will be allowed to speak during the public comment section of the meeting but the board will not be able to act on their comments.

Olcott said that if his board president wants to put the issue on the agenda after the fair is over, the board can discuss it at that point.

The battle between animal groups and Have Trunk Will Travel — a for-profit business that provides elephants for films, commercials, weddings, fairs and other events — has been going on for a couple of years.

“In what context is it OK to shock and beat an elephant?” Rossell said. “The only justification I could see was if someone was in imminent danger.”

The video clearly shows that the animal handlers were not in danger from the elephants but instead were using the devices as part of routine training and animal husbandry and was shot over eight weeks, he said.

Johnson said the various groups that regulate her business — from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums — have seen the video and dismissed it.

Have Trunk is certified by the AZA as a “related facility” through March 2014, according to the association’s website.

“Shocking elephants and other violent behavior depicted in the video is prohibited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines, the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines, and in California statute,” Rossell wrote in a statement.

Johnson said her company has been warmly received at the Kern County Fair for the decade it has been there.

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Mammoth Win for Elephants Orange County Fair Votes to End Elephant Rides!

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After 25 years, elephant rides will no longer be offered at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California, thanks to the coordinated efforts of IDA and other national and local animal protection organizations and dedicated activists. Orange County is possibly the first county fair in the state to ban elephant rides.

Orange County Fair elephant ride, Have Trunk Will TravelMore than 120 people attended yesterday’s meeting at which the Orange County Fair Board voted 7-1 against renewing the elephant rides contract with Have Trunk Will Travel. This is the outfit that was caught on video viciously striking elephants with bullhooks and abusing them with electric shock devices during training, including an elephant calf. It is the same company that provided the elephant Tai for the film Water for Elephants and other films and TV ads.

IDA, along with other elephant experts, testified before the Fair Board about the cruel training required for elephant rides and the serious risk that rides pose to the public. The board agreed that offering rides created unnecessary danger and was a liability for the fair

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