Elephant rides contract should not be continued

I was very disappointed to read that our San Diego Fair Board has decided again to continue their contract with Have Trunk Will Travel for Elephant Rides for another TWO years of fairs. Advocates have repeatedly tried to convince the board to NOT continue the contract that was DUE to be up. At a meeting in November 2011, the Fair Board voted to put off its decision until 2014, despite shocking video evidence showing the Fair’s elephant ride provider, Have Trunk Will Travel, striking elephants with bullhooks and using an electric shock device during training.

Since that meeting in 2011, the Orange County and Los Angeles Fairs have put an END to elephant rides with this company or any other, due to seeing the SAME videos and the potential for danger to anyone riding on one. This leaves the San Diego County Fair as the only major fair in Southern California that continues to offer rides.

One board member was quoted as saying that “the rides were educational for children whose families may not be able to afford trips to the zoo.” Is he serious?! If you can afford to go to the Fair you can afford to go to the zoo to at LEAST see elephants how they SHOULD be living (other than in the wild) — free to walk around, unchained, not poked with the bull hook and with other elephants — NOT walking in a tiny circle over and over again, day after boring day with people sitting on top of it and a “handler” poking him along! That board member needs some education himself when it comes to elephants!

What is it with San Diego and our fair that we do not have the same compassion or smarts as the Los Angeles and Orange County fairs to see that this is wrong on every level and NOT worth the money they may bring in for TWO MORE SUMMERS! And if something should happen with fairgoers on an elephant ride over the next two summers, will the board still think it is worth the money? The board claims that it is not a money issue. If not a money issue then what? It is potentially dangerous and just plain CRUEL to the elephant for our supposed entertainment.

Laurie Doyle

Carmel Valley