NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — Animal-rights activists are fighting to keep elephant rides out of the Nevada County Fair.
The activists say one of the tools used to train elephants is actually used to torture them.
In undercover video shot by Animal Defenders International in 2005, they say trainers from the company Have Trunk Will Travel beat and routinely shock elephants into performing tricks.
“It’s vital that the community and the public knows what happens behind the scenes to that they can make an informed decision before they decide to ride it, or pay money to ride an abused elephant,” said Matt Rossell with the group.
The Nevada County Fair has hired the company to provide elephant rides for the fair next month.
More than 50 people showed up at a town-hall meeting to discuss the issue. Many signed petitions to try and stop the elephants from coming to town.
But elephant owners have their own video. By phone, a company spokesman tells CBS13 they take pride in caring for their animals.
“Their entire lives are dedicated to the animals,” said Paul O’Sullivan.
He says the activists’ video takes the company’s training out of context.
“It was clearly edited to enrage and inflame passions,” he said. “It’s propaganda, so we understand how someone looking at it would be angry.”
Some say they’re looking forward to welcoming the exotic animals.
“I don’t have a problem with elephants being at the fair, as long as they are treated well and really kept care of,” said Grass Valley resident Ian Garfinkel.
If the Nevada County Fair Board allows the elephants to come, some residents are considering a protest at the fair. CBS13 reached out to the board, but we were told the person we needed to talk to is out of town until next week.