I’m writing in support of Have Trunk Will Travel, a company that provides elephants for fairs, movies and special events. Kari and Gary Johnson, the owners of HTWT, have been supporters of the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for many years.
Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus is a leading cause of death in young elephants and has been found in both captive and wild elephants. It has been shown that many elephants are latently infected with EEHV, just as many humans are latently infected with one or more of the human herpes viruses. HTWT has lost two young calves to this disease; there have been more than 60 cases worldwide in the last 30 years.
The Johnsons have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about this disease. They hold creative and engaging fundraisers with the money going to support our research into EEHV. They talk about the disease and educate the public about what they can do to help conserve elephants. Their outreach has brought in many donations to the International Elephant Foundation in support of elephant conservation and EEHV research. They truly care about the welfare of elephants.
Laboratory Manager, National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory
Smithsonian’s National Zoo