A petition has been started in hopes to get officials with the Durham Fair to cancel the Elephant Encounter Show.
Rachel Mann, of Durham, launched the petition on Change.org, because she said the Durham Fair Association "is supporting the captivity, mistreatment and exploitation of elephants for entertainment."
"It's an agricultural fair," Mann told Eyewitness News. "I think we should keep it that way. It's not a circus."
According to the post on Change.org, the Durham Fair Association defended its decision to bring the show because, "they are not circus elephants or zoo elephants, but family elephants."
However, William Morris, the owner of the show, was caught on tape hitting the Asian elephant, Cora, with a bullhook in 2003, Mann said on the petition's website.
Eyewitness News found Morris was cited by the United States Department of Agriculture a total of 13 times between 1996 to 2002.
The majority of the citations are for not providing veterinary care, while others were for not enough ventilation in trailers and not enough space for the elephants in those trailers.
Eyewitness News tried reaching out to Morris, who lives in Florida, but he did not return the station's calls.
Officials with the Durham Fair Association said they've talked with Morris and are convinced he treats the animals well. Officials defended the decision to bring the elephants to the 94th Durham Fair and released the following statement.
"Our intent here was purely for the educational aspects of having this rare experience of witnessing these awesome animals in a controlled environment," the statement said.
The goal of the petition was to get at least 1,000 signatures. As of Monday, 1,266 people had signed it in hopes to get the show canceled.
To check out the petition, which will remain online until Aug. 12, click here.
Mann and others told Eyewitness News at that point they will present it to the Durham Fair Association.
"I'm hoping they'll cancel the show and go on with the Durham Fair that we're use to having which is not a circus," Mann said.
No word if fair officials will reconsider its decision.
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