Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI urges Indiana State Fair to cancel elephant rides

Posted: 1 August 2014. Updated: 1 August 2014


ADI is disappointed to learn that the Indiana State Fair will be offering elephant rides from August 1—17. We have reached out to the Fair’s Executive Director and urged her to cancel the rides but have yet to receive a response. We are therefore urging Fair visitors to avoid this attraction and for members of the public to voice their disapproval. Find out how you can take action below.

It may look like harmless family fun, but elephant rides raise serious animal welfare and public safety concerns.

Elephants from Fair supplier run amok

The elephants at the fair are being provided by Carson and Barnes Circus, who have also supplied animals to:

Jordan World Circus, where ADI recently exposed shocking scenes of circus workers frantically trying to control the elephants as they run amok inside the UCCU Events Center at UVU Orem, Utah. The trainers can be seen striking the animals with bullhooks as they desperately try to contain the animals. An elephant named Isa ignores the groom’s blows as she charges into her companion, forcing the elephant backwards.

Moolah Shrine Circus, from whom three circus elephants escaped in St. Charles, Missouri in March. A number of cars were damaged, but fortunately nobody was hurt. This could have easily had a different outcome - several people have been killed and injured by aggravated elephants in the US in the last few years.

Elephant supplier fined for violations under the Animal Welfare Act

In 2012, Carson and Barnes Circus were ordered to pay $3,714 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act including serious public safety issues including: failing to maintain control of an elephant; failing to maintain a controlled perimeter fence; failing to provide adequate distance and/or barriers between the public and two elephants; and multiple citations of failing to have elephants under the direct control and supervision of knowledgeable and experienced handlers during elephant rides.

Elephants used for rides suffer

In order to make them compliant in public, elephants will undergo a violent training regime. Our undercover investigations have revealed elephants being beaten, shocked, and chained for extensive periods.

Public safety risk

In addition to the animal suffering, there is also a risk to public safety. Elephants are wild animals, and by their nature are unpredictable. However just lightweight rope, tape or fencing is used to contain these large and stressed animals while they are in public.

The dangers faced by both humans and elephants in free contact management are well known within the industry, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has “strongly discouraged” the practice of public elephant rides and walking elephants in public areas for more than a decade. In 2011, the AZA took a stronger position and enacted a new policy which prohibits AZA accredited facilities from allowing care providers to share the same unrestricted space with elephants, which is to be implemented fully no later than September 1, 2014.

Take action

  • Please contact the Indiana State Fair organizer and urge them to implement a ‘no elephant rides’ policy: Cindy Hoye, Executive Director,
  • Find out more about our No Fun For Elephants campaign

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