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Couple Rides Elephant At Wedding Despite Exotic-Animals Ban In Huntington Beach

HUNTINGTON BEACH ( — Despite an exotic animals ban in Huntington Beach, a recent wedding ceremony featured an elephant, angering some animal-rights activists.

Photographs from the wedding showed the couple riding atop the elephant, a tradition at many Indian weddings.

"Apparently, an Indian couple had rented the elephant for a ceremony and some people saw that, didn't like it and called us," Huntington Beach police Lt. Mitch O'Brien said.

The ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency on Pacific Coast Highway near Twin Dolphin.

Members of Animal Defenders International were in the area for an unrelated event when they saw the couple and the elephant and snapped photos, according to CBS2's Tom Wait.

"Our concern with exotic animals is public safety," the lieutenant told Wait.

The municipal code makes it "unlawful for any person to permit the performance of any wild or exotic animal for public entertainment, amusement or benefit on any public or private property" within the city.

The purpose of the law, according to the code, is to protect the public from hazards and the animals from inhumane treatment.

The Hyatt Regency released the following statement:

"Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach recently hosted a wedding that included an elephant as part of the ceremony, which is not uncommon in Indian weddings. In the future, we will take steps to ensure proper permits have been obtained prior to hosting other events that require special permits or licenses."

There, however, is no permitting process for elephants within Huntington Beach.

"Our municipal code does not allow exotic animals to be handled within the city of Huntington Beach. There is no permitting process for it," the lieutenant said.

Animal Defenders International has lashed out at the Riverside County company that provided the elephant, accusing Have Trunk Will Travel Inc. of mistreating animals.

The company denies the allegations and contends that the rights group is trying to get media attention.

The owners of Have Trunk Will Travel Inc. on its website say the animals are well cared-for and protected.

Meanwhile, charges are not expected to be filed against the couple.

"This is a first-time occurrence for this event. This is just a warning. There is no citation or criminal charges being filed," the lieutenant added.

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