Nonprofit media organization Lady Freethinker (LFT) recently published a report revealing the abysmal conditions of elephants featured in several attractions in Thailand.
After visiting eight different facilities, the group’s investigator discovered rampant cruelty against the animals. Abuses suffered by the elephants included being stabbed with nails, being left chained in their own feces and being forced to do stunts using bullhooks, which have caused them to exhibit signs of psychological distress.
A handler at Khao Kheow Open Zoo was reportedly seen maneuvering a baby elephant named Saan Suay by stabbing it with a nail multiple times behind its ear. In instances when the young animal made an error, it was physically penalized, usually with a sharp tool like a bullhook.
Similar heartbreaking scenes were reportedly observed in the rest of the visited locations, such as in Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya Elephant Village, Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo and Chang Puak Elephant Camp, where handlers used bullhooks indiscriminately on chained elephants to force them to perform.
At Chang Siam Park, an elephant had visible wounds on her face, including a cut under her eye. Elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden exhibited clear signs of zoochosis, such as swaying and head bobbing, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Chang Thai Thappraya Safari elephants were kept tightly chained in piles of their own feces, which was reportedly a common sight in most of the locations.
Animal abuse has been a controversial issue in Thailand, where elephants have become a major part of local tradition.
Earlier this year, an 18-year-old animal handler at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace was fired from his job after advocates caught him repeatedly beating an elephant with a hooked metal bar.
“I’m very sorry about the incident and I admit everything,” the worker then told the local press. “My father worked here and I have grown up with Chan Chao since we were both babies. Using the hook is not done often, but only when the elephant is stubborn. If they are not controlled, in the future they will become fierce.”
In its online petition, LFT is calling upon Thai officials to investigate the facilities mentioned in its report with a recommendation to “relocate abused and suffering animals to reputable sanctuaries.”
The group, which exposes cruel and illegal activities against animals through undercover operations, condemned the horrid conditions as a “disgrace for dignified elephants.” They also urged the public to stop supporting the so-called attractions exposed for exploiting the animals.
Featured Image via Lady Freethinker