Warning: Distressing Content
Several baby elephants are being bred into captivity and forced to perform at a barbaric training camp in Thailand, animal rights campaigners have revealed.
An investigation into the Maesa Elephant Nursery uncovered the horrific abuse the animals face on a daily basis, with sharp metal bullhooks used to strike them and chains used to prevent them from moving.
The calves are torn from their mothers when they are just two years old, before being forced to learn ‘cruel’ tricks and performances at the camp, according to animal rights activists Moving Animals.
The group captured some of the horrifying treatment the elephants faced on camera:
As well as using bullhooks to control and scare the animals, the trainers will pull and tug sharply on their delicate ears and force them under water to get them to do what they want.
This is all done purely for the entertainment of tourists, who pay to see the infant calves at the ‘nursery’ before walking over to the camp’s performance ground – where older, trained elephants perform tricks.
More than 20 elephants take part in these performances, with the terrified animals forced to perform at least three times a day. Footage captured by Moving Animals showed some of the animals being forced to paint pictures while their trainer pinched their delicate ears in an attempt to guide the paintbrush.
Other elephants had to use their trunks to throw sharp darts at balloon targets, while more still were made to kick footballs into goals. At one point, elephants were forced to perform a recreation of the now-illegal logging industry, where they pull and stack heavy logs.
Amy Jones, a spokesperson for Moving Animals, said:
Our investigations across Asia have repeatedly shown that elephants continue to face relentless physical and emotional suffering to take part in rides, processions and performances.
It is heartbreaking to think that these innocent babies at Maesa Elephant Nursery are at the start of a lifetime of captivity that will feature sharp bullhooks, cruel performances, and severe psychological stress.
Travel companies are misleading tourists into supporting animal abuse. To save another generation of baby elephants from a lifetime of misery, Defra must act now and ban British companies from selling tickets to elephant ‘attractions’.
Earlier this year we documented a performing baby elephant named Dumbo who was forced to perform until his back legs snapped beneath him and he tragically died.
It is heartbreaking to think that the baby elephants at Maesa Elephant Nursery could face the same cruel fate.
The camp, which has been running for over 40 years, has more than 80 elephants in captivity – with mother elephants relentlessly ‘bred’, spending most of their lives pregnant. Most are forced to continue to perform even while pregnant.
Tragically, this ‘nursery’ is just one of many elephant camps across Asia, which profit from breeding baby elephants who can then be sold to zoos and performance centres.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is considering a ban on elephant riding holidays, which would make it illegal for British companies to advertise or profit from selling tickets to places like the Maesa Elephant Nursery.
You can sign a petition to help make that happen here.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).