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Animal Defenders International

Elephants giving rides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this summer were abused, says Animal Defenders

Posted: 20 June 2014. Updated: 19 July 2016


Elephants supplied for rides this summer at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom have been filmed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) being beaten and electric shocked with stun guns by their owners Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) during training. ADI is asking the public not to pay for the elephant rides.

ADI has released video evidence showing the owners and trainers at Have Trunk Will Travel beating and shocking their elephants during routine husbandry and training ( The disturbing footage shows:

  • Owners and trainers using stun guns and beating animals with bull hooks
  • HTWT 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)

HTWT has confirmed that the video depicts their staff and their elephants, and stated publicly that they stand by their training methods.

Last year, ADI presented our evidence to Mike Muraco, Director of Animal Care at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, who shared our evidence with Six Flags administrators. Despite receiving the clear evidence of abuse, Six Flags chose to bring elephants from HTWT back to Discovery Kingdom again this summer.

Since ADI released its footage, HTWT was cited by the USDA in 2012, while providing rides at the Central States Fair in Rapid City, SD, for failing to keep a resting elephant “under the direct control and supervision of a knowledgeable and experienced animal handler.” Both HTWT and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom are no longer certified under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose new guidelines advise limited contact between humans and elephants in line with modern elephant husbandry.

Elephant rides have recently been abandoned by several events after responsible board members viewed the evidence, including the Orange County, Los Angeles County, and 2014 San Diego County Fairs, the city of Fountain Valley, CA, and Santa Ana Zoo.


Contact Six Flags Discovery Kingdom today and ask them to stop the suffering and end these rides. Send polite emails to Don McCoy, Park President at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

  • Click here to read about ADI’s investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel
  • Click here to learn more about ADI’s “No Fun For Elephants” campaign

© Animal Defenders International 2016