Perris, CA (July 12, 2013)- The elephant conservation group Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) is calling for the immediate release to the public of all video illegally recorded in 2005 on their private ranch - as much as 320 hours - by London-based Animal Defenders International (ADI), a radical "animal rights" lobbyist group. HTWT also questions the safety to the public of the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) facility which does not comply with the same stringent safety protocols required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that HTWT does.
"Ms. Creamer, release to the public immediately all video ADI illegally recorded on our private property. We trust people's sense of fairness and common sense. If given the opportunity to view the hundreds of hours of raw video unedited and un-manipulated by your staff, the public will continue to show their overwhelming support of our Asian elephant conservation successes," states Paul O'Sullivan, HTWT's Director of Community Outreach. "You've been hiding the truth for seven years. Seven years of lies is long enough."
Like other radical "animal rights" lobbyists, ADI manipulates selected portions of the video and uses it for perpetual fundraising appeals. The "gonzo" video is a textbook example of propaganda. ADI uses the video to smear the elephant conservation efforts of HTWT in order to fuel their $4 million annual budget.
"The YouTube video I saw was obviously edited to point viewers in a specific direction," states video producer Philip Ferrari, owner of Ferrari Productions in San Diego. "The process of editing video is either obvious, like a television commercial, or should be stated outright so as not to confuse the viewer. That wasn't done here. The video was edited to evoke a feeling and guide the viewer to a preset conclusion. I think this video is misleading as edited."
Unlike a documentary video - much less authentic "whistle-blower" evidence - quick edits are arranged to elicit strong negative emotional responses from viewing even routine elephant husbandry actions like tusk-trimming. In a handful of edited and reedited videos posted on their YouTube channel, then endlessly re-posted by sympathetic "animal rights" groups, dozens of short clips are inserted out of order with graphics inserted to point out "abuse" where there is none - including the scurrilous and outrageous accusation that elephants are trained using electric shocks.
In different versions, the sound in the video is also manipulated to include ominous music, sound effects and volume changes. As a result, Have Trunk Will Travel has received countless accusations by well-meaning viewers who are utterly convinced that the sound of an aluminum tub being dragged across hard dirt is an elephant roaring in pain.
"We have suffered threats, verbal abuse and damage to our reputation and livelihood at the hands of these extremists. They disparage our life’s work of elephant care and conservation by taking advantage of our lack of resources to battle them," states Kari Johnson, co-owner, with her husband Gary, of Have Trunk Will Travel. Comments about the videos on the ADI YouTube channel confirm the strong feelings that prompt multiple threats toward the Johnsons and their staff.
In a recent letter-to-the-editor to the Grass Valley, California newspaper The Union, the president of ADI, Ms. Jan Creamer, defends the video even as she admits to having recorded only 10-hours illegally over a two-month period. She claims that the video "was not edited in any way" despite obvious graphics and music being added. Demonstrating remarkable dishonesty, she then states the exact opposite - that the video was "edited only to remove sequences" and that "HTWT has seen the full video." HTWT asserts that, not only have they not seen any unedited video, but that video that would exonerate HTWT of ADI's accusations is being hidden from the public.
While ADI refers to all the different versions of video as irrefutable "evidence" of animal cruelty, when ADI sued HTWT in U.S. federal court they chose not to present the video as evidence and the case was thrown out. None of the video was voluntary provided to any authority responsible for enforcing animal cruelty laws nor to experts in elephant husbandry such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Elephant Managers Association. Instead, ADI released one or more edited versions to the London news media timed to coincide with the European premier of the feature film about circuses, “Water for Elephants,” in which a HTWT elephant, Tai, played a staring role. Despite public requests by both the San Diego County Fair and Nevada County Fair boards, ADI refuses to release any video to the public beyond a few minutes of the highly manipulated YouTube versions.
One of the sympathetic animal rights groups who also uses the edited video for self-promotion is the Galt, California-based Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). Like the zoos, county fairs, circuses and animal theme parks they excoriate in their fundraising appeals, PAWS charges visitors a fee to view their captive animals. Like HTWT, PAWS is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Unlike HTWT, however, PAWS is not a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and refuses to implement the rigorous safety requirements used by real zoos, aquariums and animal theme parks throughout the United States.
"It is unconscionable that PAWS can't or won't follow the simple, broadly-accepted safety procedures and protocols scrupulously followed by HTWT as required by the AZA. Thumbing their nose at these basic safety requirements even though they display lethally dangerous predators like lions, tigers, and bears, PAWS callously places the public at risk simply to raise millions of dollars to warehouse animals instead of fighting for the species' survival. Until they are certified by the AZA or an organization with AZA-level safety protocols, they owe it to the public to close their facilities to visitors," states O'Sullivan.
There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants
in the world making them an endangered species. So far, HTWT has produced
six Asian elephant calves and is a founder of the International Elephant
Foundation which channels donations to research facilities including the EEHV
lab at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Johns Hopkins University, Baylor College of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine at
Cornell. According to the Smithsonian National
Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory, “elephants in
captivity and in the wild have been affected by EEHV, which has been
responsible for about half of the deaths of young elephants in zoos." Have Trunk Will Travel has a flawless 30-year safety record with elephants under their care and training. Given the fact that ADI continue to keep video hidden from the public, HTWT states that it is committed to posting 320 hours of video of it's elephant's care and training on it's own YouTube channel, America's Elephant Ambassadors.
Have Trunk Will Travel provides the public with up-close, hands-on access to the Earth's most amazing animal - the Asian elephant. One-hundred percent privately-funded, income generated by America's Elephant Ambassadors giving rides, participating in special events such as parades and weddings, and acting in Hollywood feature films and television commercials is used to care for the five elephants, increasing Asian elephant awareness and participation in species survival through both breeding and clinical research. To date, Have Trunk Will Travel has succeeded in producing six elephant calves.