Animal cruelty is on the rise and this case is just one more. It's heartbreaking to see the images of the poor animals suffering at the hands of their handlers.
We hear distressing cases of animal cruelty almost every single day and they never seem to slow down. Whether there are dogs and cats being abused or tigers and other zoo animals being mistreated, the news always has the same devastating impact every single time. And now photos have emerged of the same trend continuing, this time, with elephants in Thailand.
Heartbreaking images recently surfaced on Twitter from Phuket, one of the most popular holiday spots for western tourists. The content? Elephants with blood dripping down their heads as their handlers repeatedly hit them with sharp metal hooks, over and over. Another picture showed scars on the back of their head from old wounds. The Daily Mail reports the horrifying story.
Originally posted by a Twitter user named Abang Da Balik in April of this year, the tweets have since gone viral again with the caption “You can stop inhumanity tortured on elephants by stop riding an elephant!” This time, it elicited comments from officials in Thailand. Considering that it's a hotspot for western tourists, they are extremely attracted to the offers of elephant rides, feeding, and performances. However, tourists are now being requested and urged to not ride the animals or support the businesses that provide these types of services.
A spokesperson for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told Yahoo news, "Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business. We never support tourists riding the elephants."
According to the Daily Mail, there are currently 3,500 wild elephants and 4,500 domesticated elephants in Thailand. While the national laws protect wild elephants, their domesticated counterparts are considered working animals. However, Thailand is working hard to change this.
In their attempt to eliminate animal cruelty, they've come up with policies, are supporting more research on wildlife, rehabilitating injured animals and wiping out the illegal animal trade, according to Dr. Patrapol Maneeorn, a Wildlife Veterinarian of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
He continued saying, "Travel businesses and individual tourists can help government agencies by boycotting businesses that do not take good care of animals. The process of turning taming elephants is said to be as horrific as the treatment they’re subjected to through their 'work'." He also mentioned that most of the animals that are kept captive were beaten with bull hooks and other sharp objects as a way to make them behave, only for the abuse to continue after they had been taken captive.
“The relevant Thai government agencies are planning to remove elephants from the Working Animal list and give them special protective status in the near future, which might include new regulations on how owners can take care of and treat them,” Dr. Maneeorn said in a recent interview with the TAT.
Most elephant calves are taken from their mothers before being forced to submit to a lifetime of abuse. Thankfully though, there are some sanctuaries in Thailand, such as Elephant Valley, which are doing their best to prevent the mistreatment of these animals.
In this area, elephants have the freedom to roam as they want and are only fed by humans once a day. This is as opposed to captive elephants who are continuously being forced to perform for tourists. "There is no such thing as a domesticated elephant," Elephant Valley founder Jack Highwood told Daily Mail Australia in June. "There are only elephants who have lost their will to fight back."