Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

I finally got around to reading the Santa Ana Zoo’s press release regarding the cancellation of their elephant rides.  Wow.  Zoo officials showed absolutely no remorse at all in a release that stated that the rides are ending not because of the allegations of abuse of the elephants (see the shocking video above), by the company, Have Trunk Will Travel, that provided the pachyderms,and not because of PETA’s ongoing protest of the rides, but rather because of a “recent safety policy change by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).”

In fact Santa Ana Zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi told the L.A. Times that “I still think elephant rides are an amazing way for people to learn about the animals through hands-on contact.”  Bull!  They were all about charging ridiculous prices – at least $5 per ride!  How many working families in Santa Ana could even afford that in the first place?  The elephant rides always were a fundraising scheme for the Santa Ana Zoo.  Trying to say that they were about education is simply ridiculous.  What the heck can you learn from a two minute five dollar ride on an elephant?

Santa Ana Zoo officials would have us believe that after 25 years of offering elephant rides, it all came to an end because  “Elephants are strong and powerful animals and the AZA recently instituted a new safety policy to protect elephant trainers from potential harm.”

The Zoo’s press release also offered that other zoos in the area now have opened new elephant exhibits with this type of zookeeper safety protection in place, which makes me wonder if the Santa Ana Zoo would still be offering elephant rides if they could afford to set up this alleged protection?

Now think about this – the Zoo is saying that they are concerned about elephant trainers being harmed – what about the poor kids riding these humongous beasts?  Just Google “Elephants” and “Berserk” and see how many hits you get.  These animals have been domesticated in third world countries for centuries but they are still capable of going nuts and killing people.  Not to mention the risk of falling off the beasts in the first place – look at the picture above.  Those kids don’t even look secure!

And what about the many diseases you can get from elephants, including rabies, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, and tetanus?  Why in the world would anyone want to expose zoo trainers and kids to all those microbes?

Here’s what I want to know – who is to blame for these rides?  Was this set up by the City of Santa Ana or by the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo – a private organization that allegedly charges their 26 board members (only two of which are minorities) as much as $5,000 to join their board?  I am guessing it was the latter – and if so why did they take so darn long to answer PETA’s demands to end the stupid rides?  I won’t bother asking them as they never respond to my emails.  I am just glad the rides are done and over with – but this decision should have been made a long time ago.

By the way, don’t think this ride issue is over yet.  The Santa Ana Zoo is still offering $5 camel rides.  That too needs to end!

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The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

30 thoughts on “Santa Ana Zoo officials showed no remorse in canceling elephant rides”
  1. Please, $5 is not too much to have been charging for these rides. Remember, the contractors working the ride were doing it for profit. Have you been to a carnival lately? The county fair rides didn’t even have a wristband available on weekends, did they? My daughter actually came back from the booth after I sent her over to get tickets, complaining the price was way too high.

    I am sure there was more to the decision to end the rides than just making a good business decision. But, I would never admit to acquiescing to PETA demands either. Also, the issue of berserk elephants – lets just narrow that search to berserk elephants harming children during a zoo ride. I bet you can’t find more than a handful. Probably, in fact, the same number of berserk camels.

    Abuse… hmm… Zoo animals are some of the best treated in the world. They are fed regularly and have a safe place to live. More often than not, they are given surroundings that will be close to their natural habitat. That is for both the spectator and the animal’s benefit. And, if it were not for zoos, I may never have the opportunity to see lions, tigers and other exotic animals, many whom have been saved from extinction by the works of zoos.

    1. Imagine how that fee would affect a single mom who makes minimum wage and has two kids. This isn’t Tustin Jeff.

      As for animal abuse, see the video I posted.

  2. I am a single mom of two kids who makes minimum wage and lives in Santa Ana. I take my kids to the zoo because it is one of the few forms of entertainment that we can afford. $5 is not expensive. You’d be hardpressed to fine something cheaper! My kids and I LOVE the Santa Ana Zoo!

    1. Let’s see – two kids @ $5 each, just to get into the zoo, one adult @ $8, plus two elephant rides @ $5 each. That comes to $28! That does not include any snacks or gifts.

      CA Minimum wage is $8 per hour. It would cost you almost four hours of work, a half day, to take your two kids to the Zoo, and to ride the camels, as the elephants are no longer an option.

      Somehow I don’t think you are being honest with us. And I noted that you commented from an Iphone. Don’t those cost $400? Why at minimum wage that would take you 50 hours to acquire…

      BTW, you and your two kids can go to the OC Zoo for $6 each, plus a $5 park entrance fee. At $11 you would be paying quite a bit less for that trip versus your visit to the Santa Ana Zoo…

      1. Spare me. I really don’t think Tustin, in its entirety, is any more or less affluent than Santa Ana. And, when I see moms and dads foregoing the iphone and other high end phones, then I will be concerned about the high cost of the local zoo.

        Katie has it right. She may not be able to take her kids to Disneyland on a regular basis (who can?) but, she can take them for a picnic and fun at the local zoo. Tell me where else you can go and get family entertainment for $28.00? Movies and a popcorn will cost you more than that.

        Your video from ADI? can we say PETA clone? I agree that you will see cases of animal abuse. But, Zoo are sanctuaries for animals. They are more interested in caring for them, not abusing them. What ADI shows on this video, did they turn this over to the authorities? This is hype created by a zealot organization that thinks it is wrong to even kill animals for food. Isolated cases and video designed to create outrage are not the way to stop the abuse. Reporting abuse is. Have you ever seen the elephants at Santa Ana Zoo mistreated? I admit it has been years since I took my daughter for that ride but I don’t recall them abusing the elephants.

        1. Your City of Tustin provides demographics right on their website. There I found that the median household income in Tustin is $55,985 a year. Santa Ana is at 53K – however that figure is spiked by a handful of wealthier neighborhoods. Santa Ana has led the County in foreclosures and I would hazard a guess that we have more people under the poverty line than any other city in the County.

          As for movies, our less well to do residents go to the MainPlace Mall, where they can see a movie for $2. That is one third what the Santa Ana Zoo charges for admission – for children and one quarter of what they charge adults.

          Finally, you clearly did not watch the video. The very same company that was providing rental elephants to the Zoo has been charged with cruelty and the behavior of their trainers was caught on tape. That evidence is irrefutable.

          1. I am still not seeing where Tustin is much different income-wise than Santa Ana. We have our wealthier folks and we have our not-so-wealthy folks. Our poor folks (and rich) still come to the Santa Ana Zoo, just like Santa Ana’s do. And, I remind you that, while the zoo is in Santa Ana, it is really meant for everyone as it is open to the public (but don’t Santa Ana residents get in free on certain days?).

            I have seen this video a million times. I don’t disagree with the fact that they were mistreating the elephants. But, that should be dealt with by turnning them into the authorities, not hoping their video goes viral on YouTube. And, it doesn’t mean that these particular elephants at the Santa Ana Zoo were mistreated (or did you recognize one).

            So, let’s compare apples to apples:

            Santa Ana Zoo $8 Adult $5 Children
            San diego Zoo $42 Adult $32 Children
            Los Angeles Zoo $16 Adult $11 Children
            Irvine Zoo $2 Adult $2 Children Plus Parking

            Clearly, you get what you pay for. In this case, you get a neighborhood zoo that has much better exhibits than the Irvine zoo and not nearly as nice as San Diego or even LA Zoo.

            Tusinites used to go to Captain Bloods Theater on Tustin Avenue for $2 movies. Nowadays they go to… Main Place Mall. And the popcorn still costs a fortune.

          2. Here are the full Santa Ana income demographics: I was wrong. The median income was $43K. That is quite a bit lower than Tustin’s $58K.

            I don’t have time to debate this but look at the data than look at Tustin’s and you will see that you are very wrong.

            And comparing Santa Ana’s Zoo to the ones in LA and San Diego is silly. You can walk all of the Santa Ana Zoo in one hour. Can you do that in LA or San Diego? Of course not.

            Santa Ana should have followed the OC Zoo’s model. We would still be paying four bucks – double that of the OC Zoo but half what adults are being charged now. I have already written about this extensively Jeff. The Santa Ana Zoo friends keep on adding exhibits and are even now planning yet another one. Each time they do this costs go up. Nothing seems to satisfy them. They don’t care if our residents eventually get priced out, which is what happened to the Bowers Museum.

            That video is proof that something bad has been happening with the vendor that the Santa Ana Zoo used to rent elephants from. Why would anyone want to do business with folks that hurt animals? No thanks.

    1. The founder of the Santa Ana Zoo wanted it to remain a quaint little zoo for fans of monkeys. That is no longer the case. The admission has more than doubled since 2007. The Friends keep driving the Zoo into more and more expansions and new exhibits. And it is the working families who pay the price with these higher admissions. When will it end? I suspect admission for adults will be ten dollars by next summer…but it shall remain two dollars at the OC Zoo.

  3. Oh, and as far as further expansion, admin, I think they have built out about as far as they can go. Don’t expect any new exhibits. Cost? That will always go up as does the cost of living.

    1. They have added new exhibits repeatedly over the past five years. Go to their website and see for yourself. They do have room to expand if need be but no budget. And I am sure prices will be going up again next year.

  4. Seems to me that Santa Ana has lost another low cost entertainment option within its great zoo.

    If it was because of some jealousy of “out of town” peoples of what Santa Ana has to offer its residents, I say SHAME ON THEM.

  5. “There is nothing low cost about charging people five dollars for a two minute ride on a captive beast”….. Hmmmm

    Do you have any idea Admin, how many tortillas a captive beast needs to consume to be able to perform a two minute ride?

  6. Art, are you not the one who wanted the ride to change to Burro’s?

    Burro’s and Elephant’s are both captive beast . One from Mexico and the other of Asia.

    Oh, I get it now. One from Mexico and the other of Asia.

  7. “burros were used by Spanish settlers and gold miners”…. Hmmmmm

    We have Spanish speaking settlers but where is the gold?

    Burros are only good to make the original Hungarian salami. The delicatessen!

  8. “Let’s see – two kids @ $5 each, just to get into the zoo, one adult @ $8, plus two elephant rides @ $5 each. That comes to $28! That does not include any snacks or gifts.”

    Spoken like someone who doesn’t have to watch his wallet… To begin with, why would I pay for concessions when I could pack a lunch? The SA Zoo is quite friendly to and adequately designed to accommodate picnicking families. Anyways, it’s not like the Zoo is an all day commitment, or a far trek from home. We could always pack a few light snacks to tide us over while we enjoy the animals, or simply head back home when we are ready for lunch. And souvenirs?!? Really??? Not likely, unless we are there for some special occasion (or the grandparents decided to tag along). And, if you’ll remember, I mentioned before that I am a Santa Ana resident. Of course, I take my kids to the zoo on Resident Free Day (the third Sunday of each month). In fact, I have these days programmed into my iPhone calendar so we never miss an opportunity for fun, cheap (not to mention educational) entertainment.

    1. You have me to thank for the free day being on Sundays. It took me three years but the Parks and Rec Agency finally switched the free days from Tuesdays, when they closed at 5 pm and working people missed out on the free days, to Sundays.

      We pack our own snacks too. You should see my coupon box…

      1. Then, why are you complaining, admin? You got your free day. You won’t take the elephant ride. You pack your own snacks. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that. Sounds to me like you were trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

        You go, Katie!

        1. There is plenty to complain about actually. Remember Jeff that I have been in this city for over 20 years. I have seen what has been done to the Zoo and to the Bowers. When you have non-diverse boards packed with rich people who don’t live here, what do you expect?

          The elephant rides were overpriced and ridiculous and I am glad to see them gone.

  9. Yes, Admin, I have an iPhone. And so could you if you were a savvy consumer. I bought it for only $50 when my previous, 4 year old dinosaur-of-a-phone crapped out. In fact, having an iPhone actually saves me money in the long run. Not only is my monthly bill quite affordable and (less than my previous one) thanks to a great contract, but it’s reliability and Internet capability allowed me to eliminate both my home phone and home Internet. Pretty smart, if you ask me.

    Sometimes, when every penny counts, one must be very careful when it comes to spending money, especially when it comes to entertainment. You were right when you suggested that we go to The Picture Show movie theatre at Mainplace Mall. We do that sometimes, too. However, most of the time, we opt for free entertainment such as a trip to the park to shoot some hoops, or a scootering session along the boardwalk at the beach.

  10. I’m not surprised that you attempted to discredit my accountability to back yourself up. Afterall, you needed something to distract your readers from your lacking and weak argument. But, the fact of the matter is, besides knowing my choice in phones, you know nothing about me.

    You have no idea that I graduated in the top 10% of my highschool class with top honors only to later drop out of college to care for my children. You don’t know that, despite my lack of degree, I worked my way up to being the General Manager of a well known restaurant chain. And how could you further know that I chose to leave that tiring and time consuming job to instead work night shifts as a server so that I can Home School my kids by day. How would you know these things, and why would you even care? I’m sure that you would prefer to pre-judge and pigeon-hole us single, minimum wage earning moms as an uneducated, classless lot. I think it’s time you opened your eyes, Admin. Sometimes quality family time on a budget trumps frivolous spending ability if family priorities are out of whack. Not all Santa Ana residents are what you may think.

    1. LOL! I was an honor student in high school too, and I dropped out of college and got married at 19. My wife and I have been married now for 25 years. I went back to school and got a BS and an MBA. I am very proud that my wife returned to school this year and is in line to get her BA next year. It is never too late!

      Congratulations on your success and on home schooling your kids.

  11. If that is truly the case, then my family thanks you. Resident Free day is great! Tuesday or Sunday, the gesture is greatly appreciated.

    1. You are most welcome. I am just glad that our residents can enjoy the zoo for free on at least one Sunday a month.

      It would be nice if the Zoo was to give Santa Ana families a better discount on membership…

  12. Well said Katie…sounds like you are giving your children the best gift of all- a great adult role model.

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