State Considers Loosening Rules on Elephant Rides

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is considering lifting the state ban on elephant rides.

The department will hold a hearing Tuesday to gather public comment. The rule change would allow people to ride elephants at circuses, fairs and other events.

But the rides face strong opposition. Animal advocates say elephants are dangerous and riding them adds to the risk of harm. Further, many advocates are against the use of elephants in traveling shows.

Critics plan to attend the meeting and share their opposition. Some are backing a proposal to require anyone offering elephant rides to have a $5 million liability insurance policy.

In the 1990s, an elephant that was used for rides at the Louisville Zoo attacked a visitor. The city lost a lawsuit over the incident and elephant rides were banned. The ban was lifted six years ago as part of the review of city and county laws that followed merger. The statewide prohibition on elephant rides came later.