Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

ADI’s Undercover Investigation of Animal Trainers Have Trunk Will Travel

Posted: 29 March 2013. Updated: 30 June 2017

Wildlife vet describes training at elephant suppliers Have Trunk Will Travel: “Nothing rivals the cruelty I have witnessed over the last few days.”

Animal Defenders International has released shocking footage from our 8-week undercover investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel, where elephants used in the movies Water for Elephants, Zookeeper, Britney Spears’ circus video and many other ads and shows, were trained.

The footage below shows the animals being beaten and electric shocked with stun guns, to perform the tricks seen in the movies and other performances, including:

  • Have Trunk Will Travel owners and trainers using stun guns and beating animals with bull hooks
  • Have Trunk Will Travel boss Kari Johnson viciously striking an elephant
  • A baby elephant being hit over the head and dragged by the trunk
  • Elephants chained by the legs barely able to take one step back and forward (the elephants were being chained from 6.30pm to 6.30am, 12 hours a day)


ADI has successfully presented evidence to cancel HTWT contracts at the Santa Ana Zoo; San Diego, Los Angeles, Nevada, Kern, and Orange County Fairs; the California cities of Sierra Madre, Fountain Valley, and Upland; Surprise, Arizona; and Curacao Children’s Fair in Los Angeles.

ADI continues to educate boards and other decision makers wherever Have Trunk Will Travel performs. More detailed updates about these victories can be found below on this page. Please contact our Los Angeles office if you see them coming to your community.


The suffering at Have Trunk Will Travel has received universal condemnation around the world from vets, elephant experts, zoo industry insiders, and the public.

Dr Mel Richardson, captive wildlife vet: “As a veterinarian with 40 years of expertise caring for elephants and other captive wildlife, I can assure you these videos depict animal cruelty and unnecessary suffering. These people are tormenting their elephants. The aggressiveness and vengeance with which the handlers beat and punish the elephants is unconscionable. There appears to be no purpose other than to torment the elephants. As a veterinarian in 1982-84, I worked for an animal dealer who imported 44 baby African elephants to train for the performing animal industry. I have witnessed and treated the wounds of elephants traumatized by severe training techniques. And nothing rivals the cruelty I have witnessed over the last few days from the videos from Have Trunk Will Travel.”

Dr. Joyce Poole, world renown elephant biologist, Co-Director of Elephant Voices, lead author of The Elephant Charter, world-renowned elephant biologist, with 40 years studying elephants: "What we see is systematic abuse of fearful and terrorized elephants. The brutality and aggressive attitude demonstrated by the handlers leaves no doubt in my mind about the trauma that has been inflicted on these poor elephants. The roars of pain and squeaks of alarm heard in the footage all confirm the same - elephants forced with violence to do painful tricks that are unnatural and harmful to them.”

Pat Derby former TV and movie animal trainer and founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, Ark2000 elephant sanctuary: “The actions I viewed on this video could only be characterized as needless suffering and unnecessary cruelty. In the early 70s, when I was working with animals on film sets I hated the way elephants were trained. Elephants bring out a fury in many men as no other creature does, a rage to dominate and to hurt.

“Although Have Trunk Will Travel states that their elephants are trained with food reward and positive reinforcement, no treats are visible anywhere in this video, and the bull hooks and electricity are used aggressively and angrily. The elephant actor in Water For Elephants, and the other elephants at Have Trunk Will Travel, have paid a high price for a few mediocre moments of entertainment.”

Peter Stroud, former curator of elephants at Melbourne Zoo, has said there was little doubt Tai has been subjected to cruel training methods at some point:

“Getting an elephant to do what it’s told really requires the elephant to be dominated. If you want to see an elephant behaving in the way this elephant probably does in this movie, where it’s in and around people and performing circus tricks, it’s a near certainty that it’s been trained using punishment, using pain, using very traditional methods that have been with us for a long time but are not at all elephant friendly. They’re basically cruel.’’

Have Trunk Will Travel have not denied the treatment of the elephants, instead claiming “The video shows heavily edited and very short snippets,” and that they: “...stand by our care and training methods.”

ADI asks the public to judge for themselves.

ADI President Jan Creamer: “Full length clips of the footage were made available to the media as soon as we released them. You can see what happens before and after the elephants get hit or electric shocked, but they still get hit or electric shocked.”

“We released the video evidence because of very misleading claims being spread around the world during the launch of Water for Elephants. Claims which went well beyond what had occurred on set and even claimed kindness during the entirety of their training.”

Video footage for broadcast and photographs are available to download

  • Learn more about the claims about the Water for Elephants training and the reality
  • URGENT - help our investigations and rescues – DONATE NOW

LATEST NEWS

Six Flags ends cruel elephant rides!

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA has ended their abusive elephant rides contracted with the notorious Have Trunk Will Travel Find out more

Surprise, Arizona says NO to elephant abuse

Victory! The town of Surprise, Arizona cancels abused elephant appearance by Have Trunk Will Travel and pledges “no elephants” at city’s future events! Find out more

Lawsuit alleges Six Flags fired employees concerned about animal care

Former Director of Animal Care Michael Muraco and his wife Holley Muraco allege they were wrongfully terminated and even blamed for problems they were reporting, many of which endangered animals, employees, and the public. Read more

VICTORY TRUMPETS for No Fun for Elephants campaign.

ADI’s campaign is racking up victories and shining light on the hidden abuse of elephants forced to give rides and performances! Read more »

Victory! Elephant Rides are no more at the Kern County Fair

Have Trunk Will Travel pulls out of further appearances at the Kern County Fair, effective immediately. Read more

Southwick’s Zoo urged to cancel elephant rides

Have Trunk Will Travel elephants trucked across the US to be used for rides at the Southwick’s Zoo over the summer. Take action

Kern County Fair to ban elephant rides… after 2 more years

In a bittersweet victory, the Kern County Fair Board has decided on a “sunset provision” that will allow two more years of elephant rides. Read more

Kern County Fair Board considers the evidence

After all testimony was heard at the last Kern County Fair board meeting, the board tabled their decision for two months to take a closer look at the evidence regarding public safety and the humane treatment of the elephants. Read more

Help educate the public about elephant rides at Kern County Fair

Ignoring clear evidence of abuse and an outcry from the local community, the Kern County Fair Board has sadly chosen to bring elephants from Have Trunk Will Travel to the Fair once again. Read more

Cadillac uses abused HTWT elephant in new commercial.

The car manufacturer has used abused elephant Tai – who also features in the movie “Water for Elephants” – for its new commercial “Evolution of Luxury”, advertising the 2015 Escalade. Read more »

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom using abused elephants for rides

Abusive elephant trainer Have Trunk Will Travel is supplying elephants for rides this summer at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA.Read more...

ADI supporters protest against elephant rides in LA

On April 10, 2014, ADI supporters protested against elephant rides offered by Have Trunk Will Travel at the annual children’s street fair “La Feria de los Niños” hosted by LA department store Curacao. Please urge them not to have rides at future events. Send a polite message...

Elephant Ride Company Owner Says They Are Not Returning To San Diego County Fair

Controversial elephant provider, Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), announced that they will not be bringing elephants back to the 2014 San Diego County Fair for rides. Read more…

Unwilling to change, elephant supplier drops industry accreditation

Elephant abuser Have Trunk Will Travel has announced it is no longer certified under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Read more…

Use of HTWT elephant at CyberCoders party promoted by events magazine.

When BizBash magazine published an article encouraging event planners to use live elephants for “’Gatsby’-Style Entertainment”, ADI immediately wrote to inform all parties of the terrible abuse to which elephants are subjected. Read more »

Thousands Say “No” To Elephant Rides at Kern County Fair

ADI’s No Fun for Elephants outreach at the Kern County Fair in California this Fall had a huge impact, resulting in over 2600 signatures collected to protest elephant rides at the fair. Read more…

ADI Campaigns to End Elephant Rides at the Nevada County Fair

Our No Fun For Elephants campaign recently created a storm in Nevada County as ADI, other animal protection groups and hundreds of local residents objected to rides being given at the Nevada County Fair by notorious supplier Have Trunk Will Travel. Read more...

Nevada County Fair Board Puts Elephant Ride Contract Back on Agenda.

ADI will be present to again give Board Members the opportunity to answer questions about the video. Read more »

Upland Lemon Festival Cancels This Year’s Elephant Rides

Upland Lemon Festival has confirmed they will not be having elephant rides this year. Read more…

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

The legendary television host and animal activist said, “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”. Read more »

Letter to Oregon Zoo regarding Rose-Tu’s baby.

Amidst widespread public concern over Oregon Zoo’s breeding agreement with Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), ADI wrote to them. Read more »

Rose-Tu’s baby must not be handed to elephant abusers!

A baby elephant, born November 30 2012, at Oregon Zoo could face a lifetime of misery at the hands of circus and movie animal trainers Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT). Read more »

No Hollywood ending for Tai and Rosie.

Elephants that starred with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson are back with the circus - ADI calls for stars to end silence on abuse of animal actors. Read more »

Los Angeles County Fair ends elephant rides

L.A. County Fair ends elephant ride attraction after reviewing ADI’s footage of Have Trunk Will Travel.
Read more…

Fountain Valley Cancels Elephant Rides at Easter event

Fountain Valley cancels elephant rides for 2012 Easter Event after reviewing ADI’s Have Trunk Will Travel footage
Read more…

Orange County Fair ends elephant rides

The OC Fair Board cancels elephant rides after reviewing ADI’s footage of Have Trunk Will Travel.
Read more…

Movie Star Electric Shocked and Water for Elephants.

Water for Elephants is a romantic drama set in a 1930s animal circus in the USA, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. The biggest star of the film is 45-year-old Asian elephant Tai, who plays Rosie, provided by the performing animal supplier Have Trunk Will Travel. Read more »

Santa Ana Zoo Ends Elephant Rides

Santa Ana Zoo cancels a 25 yr. contract with Have Trunk Will Travel after receiving ADI’s undercover footage.
Read more…

Sierra Madre Cancels Elephant Performance

Sierra Madre has cancelled Have Trunk Will Travel’s elephant performance at their 2011 Independence Day Event due to ADI’s footage. Read more....

ADI holding on tight to elephant ride company.

At the Los Angeles County Fair, grassroots activists have handed out thousands of ADI’s newly designed leaflets, educating fair-goers and encouraging them to call on the Fair Association to end the elephant rides. Read more »

Shocking Show Business Coming To A Screen Near You Warns ADI & Celebrities.

Next movie for the elephants filmed being electric shocked during training is “Zookeeper” with Kevin James. Read more »

ADI Works to End Elephant Rides at the San Diego Fair.

ADI is campaigning to end elephant rides at the San Diego County Fair, after the release of our footage showing Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) owners and trainers hitting and shocking elephants at their Perris, California compound. Read more »

© Animal Defenders International 2017