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Phuket Zoo faces probe over alleged abuse of baby elephant

PHUKET: Phuket livestock officials are to begin their investigation today (Apr 9) into allegations of abuse of a baby elephant at Phuket Zoo.


By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Tuesday 9 April 2019, 03:47PM


The allegations posted online are part of the #SaveDumbo campaign by the animal welfare group Moving Animals.

“Whilst documenting the animals confined to Phuket Zoo in Thailand, we met a skeletal baby elephant who is forced to ‘rave’ to music, ‘play’ musical instruments, and perform tricks, all for tourists’ entertainment.

“We were so moved by her plight, that we nicknamed her ‘Dumbo’ and started a petition asking for her to be retired to a nearby sanctuary,” the group posted on its website. (See here.)

The online petition as of this afternoon (Apr 9) had received more than 48,000 clicks of support, with a goal of 100,000. (see here.)

The Moving Animals website notes as its milestones in its campaign:

  • 2 April 2019: Petition launched with Care2. Sign here.
  • 6 April 2019: 20,000 people speak out for “Dumbo”.
  • 7 April 2019: UK news platform The Independent report on “Dumbo’s” plight.
  • 8 April 2019: “Dumbo’s” story goes international with press coverage around the world.

Among those credited as providing press coverage of the campaign were The Independent, Mail Online, Mirror Online, The Sun, Metro, UNILAD, LADbible, News.com/au, Herald Sun, Afton Bladet and la Repubblica.

The post by Moving Animals in creating the online petition also noted, “Eyewitness footage and images by photojournalist group, Moving Animals, have also revealed her skeletal body, raising concerns of possible malnourishment and exhaustion.

“When she is not performing, she stands on display for tourists, all while silently sucking on her trunk for comfort – a sign of distress seen when infant elephants are without their mother.

“We must stop this from being her fate for the rest of her life,” it added.

“More footage from the same zoo shows adult elephants swaying in distress, and a sharp bullhook being scraped against an elephants' tender skin.

“No elephant should have to live in such heartbreaking conditions. And "Dumbo" deserves to spend the rest of her life in a place where she can feel happiness and peace.

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“Please sign and share the petition calling for Phuket Zoo to release this baby elephant to an ethical sanctuary immediately,” the petition urges.

A video of ‘Dumbo’ has also been posted on YouTube by a group called “College of Gamers”. (See video here.)

Wanvisa Sangthong, a public relations staffer at Phuket Zoo, today denied the allegations that the baby elephant – which is actually named ‘Dodo’ – is suffering any form of abuse.

“This baby elephant is well taken care of. The baby elephant’s name is ‘Dodo’, and he is a male – and he is not forced to work hard.”

Asked why the baby elephant looks thin, Miss Wanvisa replied, “We take care of ‘Dodo’ very well. The elephant is just baby.”

Manas Thepparuk, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), the government regulatory office responsible for all animals used for any form of work, agreed.

Mr Manas this afternoon said that he was unaware of the online campaign until a reporter from The Phuket News called.

After viewing the video clip, he told The Phuket News that he saw nothing abnormal or unusual that may indicate that Dodo is being abused.

“This baby elephant is fine, but it is thin. My officials will go check the baby elephant’s health today to make sure it is not suffering any infection or digestive problems,” he added.

“By what I can see in the video clip, the baby elephant is working, but I am sure that is animal is not being harmed,” Mr Manas said.

 

 

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Timothy | 11 April 2019 - 08:24:51

I don't remember any charges over the Orangutan that was supposed to be a protected species. It was abused for years, then left in a cage in the jungle to die. These livestock officials are just as useless as the water authority, electric authority, land transport dept. and pretty 
 much every other government agency. 

Galong | 11 April 2019 - 07:46:33

I guess I've got to sign my name as Kurt if I want a comment to be posted on The Phuket News

Galong | 10 April 2019 - 13:39:20

Part of the problem is that elephants are classified as 'livestock'! Change the law!!!   Also, I'd like to see Mr. Mana's degree in animal psychology, please.  The baby elephant is obviously suffering. Khun Manas legally doesn't have to look at this poor baby elephant any way differently than he would at a chicken.  That's a huge part of the problem. 

Kurt | 10 April 2019 - 10:42:54

From seeing a video mr Manas can declare that the baby elephant is ok, and he finds it normal that the poor baby is working? Perhaps mr Manas should make a make a trip to a European- or Singapore Zoo  to learn about elephant welfare. Can mr Manas count his own ribs as he can count these of the baby elephant?

Fascinated | 09 April 2019 - 19:27:49

This place has always been a disgrace.

BenPendejo | 09 April 2019 - 19:11:40

Mr. Manus sounds like he's on the payroll for the Phuket Zoo. All those animals are living a terrible life and are not tended to by elephant loving people. They are simply zoo employees that just happened to get jobs with elephants. I will continue my personal campaign to dissuade people from patronizing any animal shows in Thailand, and I hope this poor animal ends up in a sanctuary.

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