Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Kern County Fair Board considers the evidence

Posted: 27 February 2015. Updated: 18 April 2015


Animal Defenders International and local supporters attended the Kern County Fair Board meeting on February 17th 2015 and urged the board—five of whom are newly appointed—not to renew its contract for elephant rides. Elephants supplied for rides at the Fair have been filmed by ADI being beaten and electric shocked with stun guns by their owners Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) during training. A rally was held outside before the meeting and then ADI and our supporters joined the meeting to testify. After all testimony was heard, 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.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We have presented the board with our evidence, again, which shows these elephants being beaten and electric shocked. They spend 12 hours a day chained up, severely limiting their ability to move. Renewing this contract would be turning a blind eye to appalling and unacceptable cruelty and risking the public’s safety. We believe that once the board sees how these animals suffer behind the scenes, they will take a responsible position and end the rides.”


Our disturbing video evidence of HTWT abusing their elephants during routine husbandry and training 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.

ADI has presented evidence to the Kern County Fair Board multiple times, and have presented around 3,000 signatures from residents calling for the elephant rides to be canceled. Despite receiving the clear evidence of abuse and a massive community outcry, the Board chose to bring elephants from HTWT back again last year.

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.” HTWT is 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 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.

Find out more about our No Fun for Elephants campaign


Come join local supporters of Animal Defenders International (ADI) Monday, April 20, at 3:00pm at the Fairgrounds, to urge the Kern County Fair Board to cancel their elephant rides at the 2015 Kern County Fair. The Board is scheduled to vote on the elephant ride contract at this upcoming meeting. The rides are provided by Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), whose owners and trainers have been caught on video shocking and beating their elephants.

What: Kern County Fair Board Meeting
When: Monday, April 20, 3:00pm
Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, Building #4 Fine Arts Building at Gate #26
1142 South “P” Street, Bakersfield, CA 93307
RSVP: ADI at 323-935-2234 or

Write a polite message to the Kern County Fair Board to let them know that you live in the local community and that you think it is neither safe nor ethical to bring abused elephants to your County Fair.

Address your email to:
Kern County Fair Board of Directors

For your convenience, here is an email block with all their addresses:;;;;;;;;

Please keep your comments brief and polite. You can mention your connection to the Kern County community and share your disappointment that the Board has voted to continue the elephant rides after having seen the clear evidence of the cruelty inflicted on these animals, in order to make them perform for rides. Remind the Board that other nearby fairs and cities have already severed ties with this company after reviewing the evidence of the behind-the-scenes beatings and use of stun guns, including the L.A. and Orange County Fairs, and the cities of Upland, Fountain Valley, and the Santa Ana Zoo. Urge them to follow their lead, so that Kern County is not seen as a community where animal abuse is tolerated, and public safety is overlooked. Please note that many of these board members are new, and so this will be their first time voting on this issue.

If you have any questions or to RSVP, feel free to contact me either by email at or phone at 323-935-2234.

Together, we will make a difference for Tai, Rosie, Becky, Kitty and Dixie!

© Animal Defenders International 2019