San Diego fair board rejects plea from elephant-ride opponents
After hearing three hours of passionate disagreement about how to treat elephants, the governing board of the San Diego County Fair rejected a request Tuesday from two high-profile animal-rights groups to cut ties with a company that brings elephants to the fair for children to ride.
But board members voted 4 to 3 to revisit the issue in 2014 when new rules from the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums concerning elephants become effective. The new rules would not have the force of law, but the association, a trade group, is looked to as a leader in the treatment of animals in captivity.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Defenders International had wanted the fair to stop hiring Have Trunk Will Travel, which has brought elephants to the annual fair in Del Mar for 27 years.
Activists allege that Have Trunk Will Travel, located in Perris, regularly abuses its animals, an accusation that company officials vigorously denied.
Have Trunk Will Travel also has provided elephant rides at the Orange County and Los Angeles County fairs and the Santa Ana Zoo.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Asian elephants Becky and Trixie arrive at Orange County Fair last summer. Credit: Allen Schaben / Los Angeles Times