by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Music
Tags: .

elephants_britJust as we suspected might happen, PETA came full force after Britney Spears this week for the use of live animals in her recent music video titled ‘Circus’.

“In order to force elephants to perform silly tricks like those in the music video, trainers shock the animals with electric prods or gouge sharp, steel-tipped bull hooks into the most sensitive parts of the elephants’ bodies,” PETA’s press release reads. They then went on to single out the trainers of the elephants saying,”Gary and Kari Johnson … have gone so far as to defend the use of cruel electric prods on elephants.”

Now, the Johnsons are fighting back — insisting that not only do they care deeply about the welfare of their animals, but that an American Humane Association rep was on hand to ensure such treatment. From the article,

“My husband, Gary, and I do indeed have a long history with elephants. Our love of and infatuation with elephants started for both of us in our teens, 37 years ago. To say we care about elephant welfare is an understatement,” Kari Johnson wrote in a statement to MTV News. “Have Trunk Will Travel has never issued a written endorsement, nor does it condone using electrical devices to discipline and control elephants except in situations where elephant or human safety is at risk. PETA very conveniently used a sentence out of context from a USDA request for public comments regarding policies on elephants in 2000.”

“The American Humane Association monitors animal action in film and television. A representative was on the set of the Britney Spears ‘Circus’ video with our elephants, Tai and Kitty, to ensure their safety and welfare,” Johnson wrote. “Britney, the director, producers and the entire crew were respectful of the elephants’ needs and comfort and a pleasure to work with.”

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Steph

    Whatever. These beautiful animals were not made to do tricks regardless…but what goes on behind closed doors as opposed to what goes on while supervised is two completely different things.

    Plus the travel is stressful on the animals….

    Just like the horse carriage argument, even if people DID take 100% THE BEST CARE of them….they DON’T belong on the streets of NY PERIOD. Just like elephants weren’t made to be kept in confined areas and stand on little chairs and balls for our amusement.

  • yvonne

    I agree, elephants are NOT entertainment. They belong in their own habitat with their own species to enjoy life with their own families. When will humans leave animals alone and figure out how to make money with their own intelligence instead of using the lives if animals to pay their bills. Animals are not here to be eaten, to wear, to be tested on or used for entertainment. Period!

  • Vegan

    I agree that regardless of if a Humane Society Rep on site or not we have no idea what went into the training of the elephants beforehand and what the travel conditions were. Perhaps these people really are trying to be humane but it seems almost impossible for an animal used in the entertainment industry to be cared for properly.

  • RAIN

    Daaaaaaaah! Elephants does not = tricks.

    People always try to justify their means. “Oh oh! but there was people there giving the elephants back rubs” or “We made sure they got fresh air.. blah blah blah… Elepahnts belong either in India in the wild or Africa in the Wild. Not in some Pop star video so that she gets millions… This is just BS.

  • j

    Depends on where the elephants came from.

    If they were born with some inbreeding, or weren’t the right gender for the zoo/conservation park, then it’s this or death. Either way, being raised by humans or around humans typically makes them unfit to return to any ‘natural’ habitat – they’ll easily be out competed and starve. They probably wouldn’t be accepted into the group, which is horrible for social mammals. If they were ‘welcomed,’ that may even cause trouble for the natural population. Unless they had particularly good genes…

    So, where did Tai and Kitty originate from?

  • erin

    Dearest J – these jerk’s elephants were born in the wild!!!!

    When you say that these elephants must either be treated like crap and forced to travel (obviously not in good conditions) and perform bad tricks day after day or die….. (IF they are bred a certain way or not the same sex) Well what about elephant sanctuaries? Would that not be a third alternative?!

    The one I really want to visit is

    There is always another alternative to horrible work conditions or death (in my opinion)

    And I am absolutely disgusted with Gary and Kari Johnson


    Here is the info and the site where this information came from.

    If there is a hell I truly believe people like these two should go there and be trained for the rest of eternity just like they tortured the wild beautiful majestic beasts that were captured and forced to do tricks for them. Sick Sick Sick.

    Perris Have Trunk Will Travel, Gary and Kari Johnson has kept 26 elephants

    Perris Have Trunk Will Travel, Gary and Kari Johnson has presently 5 elephants (1,4). Up

    Name Species Sex Status Origin Age Birth Parents Arrival From
    Becky – (299) EM F FC wild Malaysia 23 1985 x 1998-04-01 African Lion Safari, Rockton
    Rosie – (282) EM F FC wild Malaysia 27 1981 x 2001-09-04 Denver Zoo
    Tai – (132) EM F FC wild 42 1966 x 1978-05-01 West Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park
    Dixie – (131) EM F FC wild 43 1965 x 1984-03-23 Gentle Jungle
    JP – EM M FC captive-born
    Perris Have Trunk Will Travel, Gary and Kari Johnson 2 2006-12-12 Tusko (Sobik) x Rosie 2006-12-12