DURHAM, Conn. (WTNH) -- The Durham Fair always draws big crowds, as do numerous other fairs across the state. Getting up close and personal with the animals is one reason they're so popular with kids of all ages, but one animal rights activist is speaking out strongly against the use of elephants at fairs.
It is Connecticut's largest agricultural fair, so why shouldn't it have the world's largest land animal too?
"These elephants are transported all the way from Florida, where they live, all over the country to all different fairs and are forced to perform over and over," said Rachel Mann.
When school teacher Rachel Mann heard about the plan to bring an act called "Elephant Encounter " to the fair, she started an online petition to get fair organizers to cancel.
She says elephants are wild animals that have no business performing for people's entertainment, and she says they're different than all the other animals at the fair.
"Those I think are domesticated animals. it's a different scenario," Mann said.
The owner of Elephant Encounter, Bill Morris says his elephants really are domesticated. They've never been in the wild. He says he's a third generation elephant trainer, and the elephants have been in his family their whole lives. In fact in a video on the website, it says they are not circus animals, they are part of the family.
On the phone, Morris told News 8 his show has a sparkling track record. It's a family show focusing on education. There were some violations once, but nothing for the past 10 years, and he says Elephant Encounter has never been cited for any forms of abuse.
"I hope that's true and I hope he has changed his ways as has been reported, but that doesn't change my views about elephants and elephants performing for humans," said Mann.
News 8 asked the President of the Durham Fair about the petition, he said no comment. If Elephant Encounter does come to the fair, Mann says she's heard about people planning to protest.
"Will I be out there picketing? I don't know. I know that if the elephants are there, I won't be at the fair," Mann said.
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