The O.C. bride who recently named Tai for her wedding day has been sadly misled about what her $3,000 went to support.
Chelsy Craig-Austin said that she rented Tai because she loves animals and wanted them to be a part of her wedding day. But Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), the company that owns Tai, has a long history of exploiting and abusing animals.
Video footage released by Animal Defenders International just last year shows HTWT trainers repeatedly beating Tai and other elephants with bullhooks—sharp metal rods that resemble fireplace pokers—and shocking them with electric prods. HTWT's training techniques are so cruel that they are illegal in California, but HTWT openly admits to and actually defends using bullhooks. Out of fear of being beaten, the elephants perform stunts for movies, let children ride on their backs, and, yes, carry brides to their wedding ceremonies.
When they are not making money for HTWT, the elephants are kept chained like bicycles. HTWT admitted in court that elephants are often kept in chains for more than 12 hours a day.
Torn away from their families, beaten into submission, forced to perform, and denied everything that is natural and important to them—that is how Tai and the other elephants at HTWT spend their sad existence. Anyone who loves animals should refuse to fund this pervasive cruelty and instead support initiatives to protect elephants, such as the recent decision by the city of Santa Ana to end cruel elephant rides at the zoo.
Michelle Sherrow is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.