Elephant rides will no longer be offered at L.A. County Fair
By Steve Scauzillo, SGVN
Dixie, an Asian elephant, sprays water onto kids during a show at the Los Angeles County Fair at the Fairplex in Pomona in 2004. (Staff file photo)The Los Angeles County Fair announced it will no longer offer elephant rides, an official said Thursday, only months after other Southern California zoos and fairs eliminated a similar animal attraction.
Animal rights groups praised the decision, saying the Los Angeles County Fair Association showed "compassion for animals" by canceling the longtime attraction.
The association said it will not be contracting with the Perris-based group Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. for the upcoming Fair in September like it had done the past several years, including last year.
Elephant rides have been offered at the annual county fair off and on for 23 years, said Michelle Demott, the association's vice president for branding and knowledge management.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) and other animal rights groups, including the Animal Protection and Rescue League, In Defense of Animals and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have protested elephant rides at the L.A. County Fair in the past.
Last year, ADI released a video shot in 2005 allegedly showing trainers from the Perris company using electric prods to shock the elephants and "violently hitting and hooking" the elephants with bull- hooks.
Have Trunk Will Travel has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
"We stand by our care and training methods," said co-owner Kari Johnson, who founded the company with her husband, Gary Johnson.
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