At Samutprakarn, PETA found elephants kept tethered by extremely short chains, including Gluay Hom, who was just a baby. They suffered from bleeding wounds, and handlers jabbed them with sharp metal spikes to force them into giving rides and performing tricks, like bowling, painting, and dancing. Unable to interact with each other, the elephants continuously swayed back and forth, a symptom of psychological distress.
PETA eyewitnesses also found animals such as a tiger, a chimpanzee, and an orangutan being exploited as photo props. When not being used for photos, the primates were held in cramped cages. They appeared to be frustrated and depressed, as they were denied mental stimulation and any opportunity for social interaction, both of which are extremely important to their well-being.
“The animals at this Thai zoo see nothing but concrete, chains, and cages,” says PETA Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker. “PETA is calling on travellers around the world to stay away from any facility that sentences wild animals to a miserable life of violence and deprivation.”
The Thai elephant industry is notorious for the phajaan ritual, in which still-nursing baby elephants are dragged away from their mothers, immobilised, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time. This treatment breaks their spirit, after which they spend the rest of their lives in captivity at facilities like Samutprakarn.
The video can be viewed here.