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.
“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.