To CEO Sandy Woods, and Dep. Mgr. Robin Hauck of Nevada County Fair:
Thank you for your courtesy and acknowledgment, in writing an open letter to the community concerning elephant rides. I live in Los Angeles and a member of PAWS, and I did write a letter to you of concern.
For myself, I apologize for any threatening letters, you have received, and lies that you may have been told, concerning elephant rides. I don’t know personally any such people that do that, but I know there are those who do these things, and they are always out there when there’s any controversy.
Many years ago I too rode an elephant at the Los Angeles County Fair — I absolutely LOVE elephants. I LOVED riding the elephant — like riding a concrete wall! I love all animals, and I LOVE county fairs too! At the time, I had wondered how an elephant could be trained to give rides. Then over time I learned.
It all really comes down to what level of abuse is OK with each of us.
It wouldn’t occur to me to hit my dog or cat over the head, or pull its tail, or sensitive nose, or use a metal hook to teach them behavior to please me. Most small animals are easy enough to handle and teach with a treat and a cuddle — and they appear to enjoy kind, human companions. The elephants at PAWS ARK 2000 always come over to the fence and hang out near the humans on Open Day — most likely for treats. Then they are free to wander away too.
However cats and dogs and horses — in fact every species — are treated very badly worldwide - animal cruelty is common knowledge and a pall over most of the world, including our “civilized” countries.
The BIG animals - elephants — orcas — can be trained with kindness too, but they mostly probably don’t want to do tricks when we want them to, so the only way to make them perform a program, is to use harsh methods — like major food and movement deprivation and pain. Just because they can be HUGE doesn’t mean some cannot be meek and mild and terrified.
Animals are NOT stupid and have good memories, and of course have NO power whatsoever over their situations. People who practice kindness will always be the heroes. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your Nevada County Fair does look wonderful — I wish I could visit.