Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Citizens attend meeting urging Kern County Fair Board not to bring back abused elephants for rides

Posted: 20 February 2015

Animal Defenders International and local supporters will attend today’s Kern County Fair Board meeting and urge the board—five of whom are newly appointed—not to renew the contract for elephant rides. Elephants supplied for rides at the Kern County Fair 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 and their local supporters will be outside the board meeting holding a rally at 2:30pm and will then join the 3:00pm meeting to testify.

What: Kern County Fair Board considers elephant ride contract
When: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
2:30pm rally outside fairgrounds
3:00pm meeting
Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 South P St, Bakersfield, CA 93307

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.”

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.

ADI presented our evidence to the Kern County Fair Board multiple times, and before the 2014 fair we presented more than 2,600 signatures from residents calling for the elephant rides to be canceled. Despite receiving the clear evidence of abuse and a massive community outcry, the Kern County Fair 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 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.


Film and photographs are available from ADI.
Watch video footage from ADI’s undercover investigation of Have Trunk Will Travel.
Learn more about “No Fun For Elephants,” ADI’s campaign to end the use of elephants for rides, performances and appearances at public events.

Lori De Waal: 818-817-4444 e:
ADI Media Desk: 323-804-9920 e:

About Animal Defenders International

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 behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.

© Animal Defenders International 2019