Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

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

Posted: 5 December 2012. Updated: 6 December 2012

December 5, 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.
(High resolution VNR footage available upon request.)

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.

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Media Contacts:
Animal Defenders International, Media Desk: 323-804-9920

Lori De Waal , Office: 323-462-4122
High resolution VNR footage and photographs are available.

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.

Animal Defenders International
ADI is leading the campaign to end the suffering of animals in entertainment and currently has major campaigns running in Europe, South America and the USA. ADI recently rescued and relocated a record breaking 29 circus lions from Bolivia to sanctuaries in the U.S. ADI collaborated with Bolivia’s wildlife officials, to enforce Bolivia’s national ban on the use of animal in traveling circuses, enacted after ADI undercover investigations exposed the suffering of circus animals.

With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

ADI’s Mission:
To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.


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