(DEL MAR, CA) MARCH 27, 2014 - Have Trunk Will Travel, the folks who provide elephants for display, education and rides at the San Diego County Fair, announced today on the U-T TV Rodger Hedgecock Show that they will not be attending the 2014 San Diego County Fair. This follows unprecedented successes at the 2013 San Diego County Fair. The San Diego community embraced the "Save A Species - Ride An Elephant" campaign by generating the longest lines ever for elephant rides and donating over $5,000 toward elephant conservation. The Southwestern College "Jaguars" football team challenged the elephants to a watermelon-eating contest to raise awareness about the plight of the endangered Asian elephant and how elephant lovers can contribute to conservation efforts to save the species from extinction, which made national news.
"We love the San Diego County Fair," states Kari Johnson, who along with her husband, Gary, own and care for the elephants. "You can just imagine, it is always a big logistical challenge to balance the needs of our elephants, their human caretakers and all the other breeding, research and business factors involved. It was a very difficult decision. We'll miss our fans but more importantly we’ll miss the opportunity to share America’s Elephant Ambassadors with people to inform them about the critical plight of endangered Asian elephants. Thanks to the amazing support of the local news media and the staff of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the San Diego County Fair has always been one of the best ways to reach thousands of fair-goers and educate them about what each of us can do to help save the species from extinction."
America's Elephant Ambassadors have participated in the San Diego County Fair for the past 25 years providing an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of fair-goers the unique opportunity to see and learn about the plight of endangered Asian Elephants and helping in conservation efforts. “We were surprised at the news we received from the Johnsons not to return to the Fair this year, but respect their decision,” stated Frederick Schenk, President of the 22nd DAA. “Having the elephants at the Fair has been a valuable tool in educating the public of the plight of the Asian Elephant, which includes the threat of extinction because of the ongoing destruction of their native habitat, slaughter and the deadly herpes virus that kills baby elephants. Have Trunk Will Travel has an unprecedented conservation program, and an exceptional reputation in the industry. While the presence of the elephants has drawn controversy and criticism from those who oppose elephant rides, this decision will mean that the over 1.5 million visitors to the annual Fair, will no longer have the opportunity to appreciate and experience these magnificent gentle creatures at the Fairgrounds,” added Schenk.
About Have Trunk Will Travel/America's Elephant Ambassadors
Have Trunk Will Travel, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of this endangered species. We are licensed and inspected by federal, state and local animal welfare agencies, and are involved in national and international conservation efforts such as the International Elephant Foundation, Elephant Managers Association and have been a major contributor to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.
About the Del Mar Fairgrounds
The 22nd District Agricultural Association is a State of California agency that owns and operates the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Surfside Race Place, Horsepark Equestrian Center and the Del Mar Golf Center. The 22nd DAA produces four events each year: the San Diego County Fair, the Del Mar National Horse Show, Professional Bull Riding (PBR) and The Scream Zone. The Fairgrounds hosts more than 350 events annually, the largest of which is the live horse racing meet each summer and fall, which is operated by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for the 22nd DAA and the State of California. For more information on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, visit www.delmarfairgrounds.com.