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Elephant rides were sadly part of the 50th North Stonington Agricultural Fair. Elephants used for rides are routinely subjected to months on the road in filthy, cramped and poorly ventilated trailers. They are chained for a majority of their lives, separated from their family groups and subjected to excessive and abusive training methods to make animals perform. There have been incidents in which elephants have "snapped" and have been responsible for injuring or killing people.
Commerford & Sons Traveling Petting Zoo, the supplier of the elephants for this year's fair, has failed to meet minimum standards of care required under the federal animal welfare act. In 2006, one of their elephants giving rides injured two employees. The elephant became agitated and suddenly swung her head toward the two employees and pinned them against the loading ramp. This elephant was involved in other incidents and is still giving rides.
Many communities have opted not to allow elephant rides or the display of wild animals due to public safety risks and animal welfare concerns. I urge the North Stonington Agricultural Fair to be proactive and adopt a policy prohibiting such rides in the future.