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San Diego County Fair Approves Elephant Rides Through 2014 Despite Public Outcry

The 22nd Agricultural Association Board of Directors opted to keep a controversial elephant ride attraction at the Del Mar Fairgrounds despite a public outcry at its March 12 meeting.

The San Diego County Fair ride--which is hosted at the Del Mar Fairgrounds overseen by the 22nd Agricultural Association--is contracted by the Have Trunk Will Travel company.

Outside of the board meeting, North County resident Britta Wilson told Patch that the fair could "do so much better" and choose an attraction that doesn't harm elephants.

"Elephant rides are cruel barbaric and outdated and pose a threat to the public," she said.

The board previously voted 4-3 in November 2011 to keep the rides but agreed to revisit the issue after 2014. Both the Orange County and Los Angeles County Fairs no longer offer elephant rides.

Another opponent, Melissa McDonald, said the board should "have some compassion" while Carlsbad resident Larry Day said the board needed to consider the dangers and liabiliies surrounding the rides.

Board member Russ Penniman said he thought the rides were educational for children whose families may not be able to afford trips to the zoo," according to a U-T report.

A spokesperson for Have Trunk Will Travel said in an email that the company has a "perfect safety record."

"The documented history with all of the animal care and regulatory agencies that license and inspect us, including USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is evidence of outstanding care and treatment of our elephants," stated the email. "We are happy to give people the opportunity to have an up-close personal experience with such an amazing animal when they visit us at the fair."

The fair comes to Del Mar June 8 to July 4.

How do you feel about elephant rides? Did the 22nd Agricultural Association board of directors make the right decision?

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