Some three years later, the company, Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT), announced today that it has dropped its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
“We didn’t lose our accreditation, we discontinued our membership,” said Keri Johnson, a company principal.
“It doesn’t mean anything in regard to our elephant program,” she added. “We are still continuing to train and do all the things with our elephants that we have in the past.”
Have Trunk had been a member of the AZA since 1993, she said.
At the time Pattinson’s movie was released, Animal Defenders International (ADI), a non-profit activist group, revealed that Have Trunk trainers were beating the elephants, shocking them with stun guns and poking them with sharp gaffs during training.
To back up its claims, the group released a secretly taped video, showing an elephant being shocked with a hand-held stun gun and beaten with a bull hook while training.
The elephant in the video can be heard crying out when she is shocked trying to perform a headstand. See the video here.
“The elephants at Have Trunk Will Travel are forced to perform through fear and violence and people up and down the country have been horrified to see the behind-the-scenes violence we exposed in our video,” said ADI President Jan Creamer in a statement.
Creamer said the company dropped its membership in the group because it could not meet the AZA’s “updated animal welfare measures.”
Have Trunk, based in Perris, CA provides elephants for parades, rides, advertisements and movies.
The non-profit AZA was founded in 1924 to ensure that captive animals received humane care and that zoos, circuses and animal trainers adhered to a series of industry best practices for the treatment of captive species.
“AZA members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, veterinary care, wildlife conservation, scientific research, education, expert staffing, and safety,” according to the organization’s Web site.
In addition to Pattinson’s picture, which also starred Reese Witherspoon and Christolph Waltz, the company supplied elephants for Adam Sandler’s 2011 film “Zookeeper” and Britney Spears’ music video for “Circus.”
Former television personality and long-time animal rights advocate Bob Barker also made a public service announcement denouncing the training procedures entitled “No Fun for Elephants.”
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