Victory: Zoo Discontinues Elephant Rides

Published by Jennifer O'Connor.
wwarby | cc by 2.0

Great news: After more than a year of pressure from PETA, the Animal Protection and Rescue League, Animal Defenders International (ADI), and celebrities—including Charo and Switched at Birth star Constance Marie—the Santa Ana Zoo in California has announced that it will discontinue cruel and dangerous elephant rides.

This is a big deal for the elephants, who are dominated and controlled by bullhooks—barbaric training devices that resemble a fireplace poker—as can be seen in video footage from ADI that shows that trainers from Have Trunk Will Travel, the company that provided elephant rides for the zoo, beat and shocked elephants into submission. When not working, the elephants spend much of their time chained by two legs, barely able to take a step forward or backward.

Elephants are highly intelligent, social, and curious animals who deserve better than being forced to plod along in circles all day while being prodded by a bullhook for people’s amusement. Elephants who are subjected to the constant threat of physical punishment—like those who provided rides at the zoo—are also more prone to dangerous and unpredictable behavior and present an unnecessary safety risk to the public.

Please click here to send a thank-you note to Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido and click here to thank Gerardo Mouet, the executive director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency, for making the compassionate decision to end the elephant rides. Be sure to add a P.S. to Mr. Mouet to ask him to make the same decision for the Orange County Fair since Have Trunk Will Travel provides the rides there, too, and Mouet is on the fair’s board.  

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind