Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Bob Barker urges Oregon Zoo to secure baby elephant’s ownership

Posted: 6 December 2012. Updated: 6 December 2012

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has written to the director of Oregon Zoo, Kim Smith, calling for assurances that the controversial performing elephant supplier with ownership rights over the Zoo’s new baby elephant, Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), has formally given up all legal claim to the calf.

Legendary television host and animal activist Bob Barker supported the call, “I urge the Oregon Zoo to withdraw from their agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel, in consideration of the video evidence of their abuse of their elephants”.


Following news of the calf’s birth it was revealed that HTWT owns the elephant’s father and has legal ownership of the baby. ADI released video evidence of HTWT owners and trainers beating their elephants with bullhooks and electrocuting them with stun guns to create the same tricks seen in circuses and movies.

Some of the video can be viewed here.

The footage shows:

  • Elephants cry out when being electric shocked into performing a headstand
  • Elephants are beaten about the body and legs with bull hooks
  • A baby elephant is hooked in the lip and cries out


Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International has written to Oregon Zoo Director Kim Smith, “While we appreciate your assurances that Oregon Zoo plan to keep the new elephant, and the Johnsons have stated that “HTWT has no intention and never had any intention of coming to take Rose-Tu’s calf”, we are sure that you understand our deep concern, and that of the public, that while the baby is the subject of a legal agreement awarding ownership to HTWT, there is the risk that the Johnsons could change their minds at a later date, when the public attention has died down, or even in future years if they find themselves in need of a new performing elephant. We urge you to seek a new legal agreement that provides for HTWT to rescind the original agreement and give up all claims to this calf.”

The full letter can be found by clicking here.

The video was shot by an ADI investigator working for HTWT, who documented the routine abuse of elephants at Have Trunk Will Travel’s Perris California compound. In the video, elephants are repeatedly given electric shocks with hand held stun guns and beaten about the head and body with bullhooks during training. Gary and Kari Johnson, owners of Have Trunk Will Travel, have insisted that they stand by their training methods. Tusko was not present at Have Trunk Will Travel at the time of the ADI investigation, he had been moved to the OR Zoo just before the investigation began. The baby elephant seen on the video is Tucker.


Please contact Oregon Zoo and politely urge them not to hand over the calf to HTWT – tell them to look at our video – email them today at

Watch ADI’s shocking footage inside Have Trunk Will Travel and tell the Zoo to do the same.

Click here to read article “Rose-Tu’s baby must not be handed to elephant abusers".

Read about our campaign victories ending HTWT elephant rides at venues across Southern California click here.

Join ADI urging Perris, CA leaders to cancel abused elephant from Holiday Parade! Click here for more information.


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