In a victory for animal rights advocates, the city of Santa Ana today announced they would cease elephant rides at the Santa Ana Zoo.
Here’s the press release:
SANTA ANA, CA (December 16, 2011) – After twenty-five years, the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park will no longer offer elephant rides to their visitors. While elephants were a common sight at the Zoo during the winter and spring months, the elephants giving the rides were not housed at nor owned by the Zoo. A private company, Have Trunk Will Travel, transported the elephants to the Zoo for the day to educate the visitors and give rides.
Have Trunk Will Travel has long been involved with the conservation of Asian elephants and has helped many zoos with their captive elephant breeding programs. Their elephants have been seen in many movies, television shows and commercials. Thousands of people enjoyed the rides each year. In the twenty-five years of offering rides at the Zoo there was never a single safety incident involving the elephant rides.
The decision to discontinue the elephant rides at the Santa Ana Zoo was based on a recent safety policy change by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Santa Ana Zoo is accredited by the AZA and must follow strict animal care and safety guidelines to remain accredited. Elephants are strong and powerful animals and the AZA recently instituted a new safety policy to protect elephant trainers from potential harm. With the new safety standards, zookeepers at AZA accredited zoos are not to share the same space as elephants without some form of protective barrier between the trainer and elephant. The neighboring San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens both opened new elephant exhibits with this type of zookeeper safety protection in place.
Zoos across the country are working together to educate their visitors about the important conservation efforts being done by zoos to save the Asian elephant. These magnificent animals are an endangered species.
The Santa Ana Zoo is known for its extensive monkey collection and will be celebrating its 60th birthday this coming March. The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park is located at 1801 East Chestnut Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701. The zoo is open 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.