End Zoo Rides on Abused Elephants

End Zoo Rides on Abused Elephants


IDA’s #10 Worst Zoo for Elephants: Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts

Most summers, Southwick’s Zoo in Massachusetts hires a California-based company to truck in elephants over a treacherously long distance to sell elephant rides to the zoos’ customers. The zoo – #10 on In Defense of Animals’10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in 2015 in North America – has been using Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), an elephant “rental” company. HTWT has a history of being notoriously brutal and violent to its elephants, who are also rented out to be used in other forms of entertainment including appearances in movies, events, and theme parks.

HTWT has been caught on video that was gathered by Animal Defenders International viciously beating elephants, using an electric shock device, and striking a baby elephant over the head and pulling her trunk. These elephants were also observed chained for 12 hours a day, barely able to move back and forth, let alone walk. In the summer of 2015, Southwick’s Zoo rented elephants Rosie and Tai. The same elephant, Rosie, is seen in the video mentioned above being jabbed with a sharp bullhook to make her run faster by HTWT.

The bullhook is a fire-poker-like tool used to coerce elephants to perform behaviors common in animal abusement practices – like parading in circles to give customers rides. The use of the bullhook has been banned in the state of Rhode Island and also in California, where HTWT operations are based. The California bullhook ban will be effective as of January 1, 2018, and HTWT has stated that it can’t continue business without use of the bullhook. In Defense of Animals will continue to monitor the elephants to see what their captors will do after the ban on abusing them with weapons goes into effect.

Last summer, Southwick’s Zoo didn’t hire HTWT to take elephants to its zoo, but this was no moment of conscience. Zoo Director Dr. Peter Brewer responded by saying, “I think he [an owner of HTWT] does a great job with his elephants”.  We are shocked that a zoo director would compliment such a blatant and extreme elephant abusing company, let alone hire and financially support its continued elephant torture.

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