Warning: Distressing Content
The skeletal baby elephant who was forced to bang his head in time with rave music at a Thailand zoo has died.
The elephant, nicknamed Dumbo, was forced to perform tricks for tourists at Thailand’s infamous Phuket Zoo, with heartbreaking footage of him ‘performing’ going viral just last month.
Tragically, it’s now been confirmed that baby Dumbo has died at the age of three, due to an infection which made him so weak his back legs snapped.
You can watch the heartbreaking footage of his treatment at the zoo below:
The baby elephant was forced to ‘rave’ to music, ‘play’ musical instruments, and perform tricks each day at the zoo, resulting in Moving Animals beginning an investigation and calling for his release into a nearby sanctuary.
The organisation set up a petition to send the baby elephant to a sanctuary, so he ‘can live in a place where he can feel happiness and peace,’ and no longer has to face the threat of abuse.
People around the world were outraged at the elephant’s suffering and the petition soon reached over 200,000 signatures in under three weeks. However, it was sadly already too late for Dumbo, who tragically became too weak and died recently.
The elephant had an infection in his digestive tract, leading him to become so weak that his legs snapped beneath him. Despite this, the zoo did not take the elephant to the hospital for three days.
The vet explained to The Phuket News:
He had an infection in his digestive tract that resulted in [Dumbo] suffering constant diarrhea, which caused other health complications, including the fact that his body was not absorbing nutrients as it should, which made him very weak.
Regarding how the elephant came to sustain two broken legs, a vet told the publication they were the result of a ‘horrible accident’ and described it as ‘the worst’.
The vet explained how the incident happened on April 13, when Dumbo’s front legs became stuck in some mud while he was holding himself up with his back legs on dry ground. As the elephant tried to lift himself out with his back right leg, the bone was too thin and brittle and so broke.
Then, he tried to push himself out of the mud with his back left leg and that broke too. Workers at the zoo managed to get the elephant out of the mud but the vet claims they didn’t know his legs were broken at this point.
As such, the zoo vet provided care for him until April 17, when Dumbo was eventually taken to the Elephant hospital. Upon arriving, the animal couldn’t stand and was very weak and tragically passed away in the early hours of April 20.
Amy, the co-founder of Moving Animals, said:
This is a tragic and horrific end to Dumbo’s heartbreakingly-short life. His skeletal body clearly suggested that he was unwell and could be suffering from malnourishment and exhaustion.
And yet the zoo did nothing until receiving international criticism. Under their care, this baby elephant broke both of his back legs, and the zoo did not even realise for three days. I can’t bring myself to imagine Dumbo’s suffering during this time.
For Dumbo to die whilst under the so-called ‘care’ and ‘treatment’ of the zoo shows just how neglected these animals are in captivity.
We hope that Dumbo is now finding the peace that he was so cruelly denied in his life, and that his tragic story will urge Thai authoritities to finally put an end to these outdated animal performances.
Mr Pichai, the manager of the zoo, was reported to be ‘deeply saddened by Dumbo’s passing,’ telling The Phuket News that ‘nobody wants to lose something they love’ and claimed ‘we did the best we could do to protect him’.
Moving Animals are now urging tourists never to pay to see animals in captivity, as ‘no animal deserves to repeat Dumbo’s tragic story.’
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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).