Organizers of the San Diego County Fair are having elephant rides provided by the company Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), despite video evidence that the company abuses elephants. In video footage recently released by Animal Defenders International, trainers with HTWT can be seen forcing elephants to “perform” by shocking them with electric prods in the belly and genital area and striking them with bullhooks—sharp, metal-tipped weapons resembling a fireplace poker that can leave painful welts, abscesses, and puncture wounds in elephants’ sensitive skin. You can see a baby elephant crying out in pain each time he is hit on the head and jabbed in his sensitive mouth with a bullhook.

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The behind-the-scenes beatings continue throughout the elephants’ lives and leave the elephants fearful and intimidated, allowing handlers to maintain control over them. When leading elephants used for rides, HTWT handlers are never without their bullhooks—a tool that the elephants associate with pain and which reminds them what will happen if they behave in a way the handler doesn’t like.

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