Demonstrators want you to avoid one ride at the Renaissance Festival

The animal rights organization says the elephants have been abused.
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Demonstrators who plan to be in Shakopee on Saturday say they're not trying to keep you from visiting the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. They just want you to avoid one of the rides. 

A chance to ride on the back of an elephant (for $5) has been one of the experiences offered at the festival for years. You can also ride on a camel, a llama, or a pony. 

It may look like fun and games, but the group Animal Defenders International (ADI) maintains the Renaissance Festival's elephants have been abused behind the scenes by their trainer. 

ADI says it has video footage of the trainer, who sends his elephants to various festivals around the country, mistreating the animals. 

ADI says it will be doing "outreach" to people attending the Renaissance Festival on Saturday. 

“We are appealing to the public not to pay to ride abused elephants," the group's president Jan Creamer says in a statement

The Animal Rights Coalition held similar demonstrations a couple of years ago. 

Festival says no cases of cruelty confirmed

While some festivals around the country have stopped using elephants, the animal rights groups have not convinced Minnesota's Renaissance Fest to take that step. 

The Festival's artistic director, Carr Hagerman, told FOX 9 there are lots of eyes on the elephants and no cases of cruelty have been confirmed. 

Hagerman thinks letting people see the world from the back of an elephant is actually a good way to help protect the species. 

"[I]f we want to save populations around the world, I think the best way to do that is to have an up close and personal experience, and that's why we plan on sticking with it,” he told FOX 9.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival has been around since 1971. This year's event continues on weekends (and Labor Day) through October 1. 

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