Curacao Asked by PETA to Nix Dangerous, Cruel Elephant Rides as Los Angeles and Orange County Fairs Have Done

Bullhook Beatings, Risk to Children Too High a Price to Pay, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
April 9, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Los Angeles

The Curacao department store in Los Angeles is presenting La Feria de los Niños, a children’s street fair, on Saturday, and notorious exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), which was caught on tape electro-shocking and beating elephants, appears scheduled to provide elephant rides at the event. Animal Defenders International has released video footage of elephants crying out in pain as HTWT trainers repeatedly strike them with sharp metal-tipped bullhooks and jolt them with electric shock prods. Because of this abusive training, which is the industry standard, PETA has sent a letter to Ron Azarkman, president and CEO of Adir International, which does business as Curacao, urging him to cancel the rides over public safety and cruelty-to-animals concerns. In the letter, PETA points out that numerous venues—including the Los Angeles County Fair, the Orange County Fair, and the Santa Ana Zoo—have made the decision never to host elephant rides again.

“Elephant rides are accidents waiting to happen—for the elephants who are beaten and for the children whose safety is at risk,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “This archaic idea of putting children on powerful, wild animals’ backs is a high-risk venture and means that elephants must be deprived of all semblance of a natural life.”

PETA has also e-mailed an action alert to nearly 100,000 of its members and supporters asking them to contact organizers as well. If Azarkman fails to cancel the elephant rides, PETA will protest the event.

For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Adir International President and CEO Ron Azarkman follows.


April 8, 2014


Ron Azarkman, President and CEO
Adir International, LLC, dba “Curacao”


Dear Mr. Azarkman:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and its more than 3 million members and supporters, including more than 50,000 in Los Angeles. It was disappointing to learn that you plan to offer inhumane and dangerous elephant rides again at this year’s Feria de los Niños, and I urge you to reconsider.

As you probably know, three elephants rampaged recently after escaping from the children’s ride area of a circus and damaged vehicles in a parking lot before they were recaptured about 45 minutes later. Fortunately, no children were injured, but they easily could have been. In 2009, an elephant used for rides injured 15 children after becoming spooked. Multi-ton elephants pose a serious danger to humans, whom they can easily kill or injure. About one person is killed by a captive elephant every year in the United States, and many more are injured. Surely you don’t want to subject the children attending your event to these risks.

It’s especially troubling that you apparently plan on using notorious exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) to provide the rides. You may not be aware that HTWT recently gave up its Association of Zoos and Aquariums certification rather than coming into compliance with the certifying body’s elephant safety policies. HTWT was also cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to comply with the basic animal handling requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, which are intended to ensure the safety of the public and animals alike. HTWT has also been documented on video jabbing elephants with bullhooks—sharp metal-tipped weapons resembling fireplace pokers that can leave painful welts, abscesses, and puncture wounds on elephants’ sensitive skin—and shocking them with electric prods, in violation of state law. Notably, experts now recognize that elephants who are subjected to this kind of abuse are more likely to lash out.

Because of the public safety and animal welfare issues inherent in elephant rides, numerous venues, including the Los Angeles County Fair, the Orange County Fair, the Santa Ana Zoo, and many others have pledged never to host elephant rides again. May I please hear from you by the end of today that you will follow in these compassionate and prudent footsteps and cancel your plans to include elephants rides at this weekend’s Feria de los Niños?

Very truly yours,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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