Kern County Fair Planning to Host Cruel Elephant Rides

PETA Calls On Organizers to Keep Violence, Risk to Children off the Fair’s Lineup—or Face Protests

For Immediate Release:
September 11, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Bakersfield, Calif.

The Kern County Fair starts next week, and PETA, whose motto includes “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” is calling on fair organizers to cancel plans to offer elephant rides—especially given the fair’s history of working with notorious exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel, which was exposed electro-shocking and beating elephants in video footage released by Animal Defenders International (ADI). In a letter sent to fair organizers, PETA also points out that frustrated captive elephants have been known to lash out—and that just this week, a veterinarian in Maine was crushed to death by an elephant.

If the Kern County Fair fails to cancel the elephant rides, PETA and ADI will protest the event.

When:   Wednesday, September 17, 5:30 p.m.

Where:  Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St., Bakersfield

“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. “PETA is calling on the Kern County Fair to take a stand against cruelty to animals by adopting a strict ‘no elephant ride’ policy.”

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.

For more information, please visit


PETA’s letter to Mike Olcott, CEO and General Manager of the Kern County Fair, follows.


September 10, 2014


Mike Olcott
CEO and General Manager
Kern County Fair


Dear Mr. Olcott:

On behalf of PETA’s more than 3 million members and supporters, I am writing to ask that you cancel your plans to offer elephant rides at the upcoming Kern County Fair. After reviewing the information in this letter, surely, you’ll agree that the cruelty of these rides has no place at your event.

The Kern County Fair has previously hosted notorious elephant exhibitor Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT). In video footage released by Animal Defenders International, HTWT trainers can be seen striking elephants with bullhooks—sharp, metal-tipped implements that resemble fireplace pokers—and shocking them with electric prods to get them to “perform.” A baby elephant cries out every time that a handler hooks him in the lip, and another elephant bellows in pain when a handler jabs her on her sensitive belly. What this video footage depicts is the rule, not the exception, when it comes to training elephants for rides and circus tricks. Dr. Philip K. Ensley, a board-certified zoo veterinarian with decades of experience, including 29 years as the associate veterinarian for the San Diego Wild Animal Park, concluded upon seeing the video, “The training and husbandry practices demonstrate physical abuse by continuing threats or intimidation, beating, poking and striking with the bull hook.”

Handlers at elephant rides are never without their bullhooks. It is the elephants’ fear of the pain of the bullhook and that constant threat of physical punishment that makes these massive animals tolerate people riding on their back as they plod in endless circles for hours at a time, despite being in pain and exhausted.

Also, know that, on average, someone in the U.S. is killed by a captive elephant every year, and many more are injured. Just this week, a veterinarian in Maine was accidentally crushed to death by an elephant. Elephants are also known carriers of the human strain of tuberculosis, which is easily spread, even without direct contact.

We hope you’ll agree that elephant rides have no place at your family-friendly event. May I please hear from you that you’ve made the compassionate decision to take the cruel elephant rides off the fair’s lineup by tomorrow, September 11? At the very least, please pledge never to host elephant rides for any future events. Our members are waiting for an update, and we would be thrilled to share the good news of your compassionate choice. Thank you for your careful consideration.

Very truly yours,

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

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