Orange County Fair ends elephant rides after a quarter century over liability, safety

Children riding an elephant at the Orange County Fair.
Children riding an elephant at the Orange County Fair.
HB Girly/Flickr

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

A longtime tradition at the Orange County Fair is ending because of liability and safety questions.

Elephant rides have been a part of the fair for 25 years and nobody's been hurt, but animal rights activists have protested the rides for some time.

They claim handlers control the animals with electric prods and bullhooks, and that when you use violence on an elephant, eventually, the elephant will respond in kind.

The company that provides the elephants denies any mistreatment, but the fair’s governing board also took note of new rules from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

AZA now says humans and elephants should not occupy a shared space. Although the fair doesn’t belong to AZA, those rules open the door to possible lawsuits should an accident actually take place.

By a vote of 7-to-1, the board voted to end the rides, saying they were no longer practical or in the fair’s best interest.