The conditions elephants are forced to endure at the Phuket Zoo are causing them to exhibit stereotypical symptoms of restlessness and frustration.
If you’ve ever contemplated going to Thailand, chances are you’ve dreamt about what it’d be like to meet – and perhaps even ride – an elephant. Unfortunately, the conditions elephants are subjected to are not what you’d expect.
Zoos claim that elephants, some of whom have spent their early lives laboring of rate logging industry, are “very happy” to entertain humans by putting on shows and giving rides, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, TrueActivist recently enlightened readers on the cruel methods used to ‘break’ elephants’ spirits for Asia’s tourism industry.
One activist who is disheartened by the way the mammals are treated in the Phuket Zoo is Emma Brown. In fact, she runs a Facebook page dedicated to exposing the zoo’s wrongdoings.
Recently, a participant of the group named Olivia Skippings posted a video of what she saw when she visited Phuket Zoo. According to The Dodo:
“She was so distressed. She wanted to get this footage out to others to see the conditions these animals are kept in.”
The footage reveals the elephants exhibiting stereotypical behavior caused by the cruel conditions they are forced to live in.
Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, commented on what Skippings captured:
“These elephants are exhibiting stereotypic behavior, swaying back and forth to cope with the cruel monotony of captivity and relieve some of the pressure of being trapped in place on unforgiving concrete flooring. They are sadly chained by one leg, rendered immobile, which is a further tragedy as they can hear and see their companions – but heartbreakingly cannot reach them for comfort and companionship.”
Anyone who has traveled to Thailand – and spent time in Phuket – can testify that it is common for elephants – and other animals – to be kept in similar conditions. In the eyes of many Thai people, animals are objects, not sentient beings.
Vicki Kiely, an activist based in Thailand, shared her concerns:
“The elephants are in shocking conditions. The pads on the feet are totally destroyed — they have fungus on their feet because they’re standing in their own urine and shit all day.”
One photo revealed a baby photo trying to nurse – and failing – because he was tethered too tight.
Another photo shows an elephant who is forced to give rides to tourists. His head is covered in wounds from being struck by a bullhook. While bullhooks have been banned in several U.S. cities, they’re are still commonly used in Asian countries.
Regarding the care of the elephants at the Phuket Zoo, Kiely states:
“The guys who handle the elephants, I would question their care. That part of the zoo is just so depressing.”
Despite the fact that Thailand passed its first law in November 2014 against animal abuse, allowing the government to prosecute those suspected of abusing animals, little has been done to remedy the poor treatment of animals.
In fact, Brown has worked for a decade to draw attention to the abuse at the Phuket Zoo, but nothing ever happens because the government lacks the mechanisms to enforce the law. She says:
“I have contacted Captive Animals in the U.K., I have contacted Thai authorities, I have contacted media outlets. I’ve spent hours and hours of trying to get something to happen. It never does.”
Obviously, it’s time for a change. Most of the elephants are kept chained down – one chain “on the front leg and one on the back, so they literally can’t move”. But if the Thai government isn’t taking action, activists need to.
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