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Animal advocates push for end to elephant rides at O.C. Fair

March 20, 2012 | 11:14 am

Elephants

Animal advocates are calling on the Orange County Fair Board to end elephant rides at the fair.

Elephant experts, veterinarians and animal rights groups have written letters expressing their concerns,  and they plan to testify at Thursday's meeting of the Agricultural Assn. Board of Directors.

"At a time when we are fighting to save highly endangered Asian elephants from extinction, offering them for rides sends the wrong message about how we treat our planet’s rare and vanishing species," wrote Bob Barker, a longtime advocate and former host of the television game show "The Price Is Right."

The rides are operated by Have Trunk Will Travel Inc., a Perris-based company whose trained elephants are rented out for fairs and parties.

The Orange County Fair declined to comment on the issue until after Thursday's meeting, said spokeswoman Robin Wachner.

The Santa Ana Zoo ended elephant rides last year to comply with changes in animal care and safety guidelines designed to protect zookeepers and trainers from being harmed.

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-- Anna Gorman

Photo: The Santa Ana Zoo ended its 25-year-old elephant ride attraction last year, citing potential harm to zookeepers and trainers. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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