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Video: Shameful elephant abuse continues in Thailand

Shameful elephant abuse continues in Thailand

Shocking footage shows elephants being forced to carry spectators on their trunks while workers holding hooked poles make them perform.

The animals were filmed earlier this month during one of their grueling daily shows for crowds in the remote northeast region of Surin in Thailand.

Mahouts can be seen wielding bullhooks- which have sharp metal attached to the end of a piece of bamboo – which they use to control the elephants.

During the performance, the elephants spin hula hoops on their trunks and stand on stools before they are forced to shoot a football into a net.

Some are told to rear up and in another routine volunteer lay down and let the elephants walk over them – coming within inches of being crushed.

Shockingly, the elephants are then made to carry spectators by hoisting them up in their trunks and parading around the showground.

Throughout the show mahouts are holding the bullhook weapons, with one woman raising it towards the elephant after she violently tugs its ear.

Animal rights group PETA today slammed the show, which partly because of its remote location has so far escaped the criticism received by others in Thailand.

Jason Baker, PETA vice president of international campaigns, said the elephants in the video were only performing because of the threat of violence and called on tourists not to attend.

He said: ‘These elephants are not performing because it’s fun. It’s because they’re scared of the abuse they will get if they don’t.

‘This is evident with the bullhook, a weapon with a sharp hook on one end, being held right next to them.

‘If people knew that their admission tickets were promoting the abuse and kidnapping of elephants, they would surely never enter.’

One visitor to the Elephant World in Surin province said the shows run every day from 10 am until 2 pm with each elephant having to perform several times.

They said: ‘The show is very popular, on weekends and public holidays it is full, and the people who visit are mainly Thai tourists but sometimes there are foreigners.’

Last month China’s biggest tour operator severed ties with a similar show near the capital Bangkok following sustained pressure from animal rights group PETA.

However, the show in Surin is around 300 miles away and in the impoverished and undeveloped northeastern Isan region of Thailand.

The elephant park appears to have escaped the scrutiny of larger elephant shows in popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok and Phuket.

PETA spokesman Jason Baker added: ‘All elephants forced into show business in Thailand have first been broken in the most sickening, horrifying, and often deadly of ways.

‘The Thai elephant industry is notorious for taking still-nursing baby elephants away from their mothers, immobilized, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time.

This treatment breaks their spirit, and some don’t survive.

‘They are then forced to spend the rest of their lives in captivity and perform in shows like this one where they are beaten, whipped and gouged with bullhooks to force them to perform difficult and meaningless tricks for human entertainment.

‘When not being forced to perform or give rides, these elephants usually spend most of their lives chained, unable to take more than a few steps.

‘PETA urges everyone to stay far away from any place that forces elephants to perform tricks or offers rides.’

The manager of Elephant World, Prakit Raumpattan said the bullhooks are only used as a deterrent and ‘never used during training or in the shows’.

He added: ‘The bullhook is just to make sure the elephants don’t misbehave. The elephants are still wild animals, no matter how much we train them and try to make them tame.

‘They can still be unpredictable to the bullhook is used as a threat to stop them from doing anything dangerous or attacking people.

‘We have trained the elephants since they were babies in the same way people train a dog and they will be given rewards such as bananas, but they’re never abused.