Could this be a crucial breakthrough in the fight to save elephants from heart-breaking cruelty?


Forced into a glass-sided water tank by a rider sitting on its head, an elephant is forced to perform for a party of schoolchildren.

The show is just one tragic example of the life endured by captive elephants at some tour sites across India, Nepal, Thailand and elsewhere.

Asian elephants are critically endangered yet still captured in the wild while infants and brutalised into being submissive showpieces at tourist “attractions”.

These venues are funded in part by British visitors, tempted into them by UK travel firms.

Tragic: elephant can barely stand in deep water tank

Travel association ABTA “recommends” that its members should not sell holidays that include unethical elephant experiences, but there are no penalties for firms that ignore the guidance.

Now there’s hope for change after the Government indicated that it may ban UK travel firms from promoting venues like the one pictured here, Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand.

The move comes in response to a parliamentary petition demanding that a ban is enforced by law, saying: “Current guidance and promises by the tourism industry are insufficient.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs responded: “We reiterate our previous calls to British travel agents to cut ties with any company that sells experiences that are harmful towards elephants and urge tourists to visit high-welfare attractions whilst holidaying.”

Importantly, it went on: “The Government is considering the potential of legislation to prohibit adverts of cruel animal entertainments overseas.”

Elephants are wild animals and have to be horrifically abused before they submit to being used for tourist rides.

‘Pajan’ is the name given to the brutal process of teaching an elephant to obey human commands

The statement was welcomed by Duncan McNair, chief executive of Save The Asian Elephants, saying it was a response to the UK petition to parliament and a global change.org petition now at almost 960,000 signatures.

“Save The Asian Elephants welcomes Government’s statement in response to STAE’s petition of nearly one million signatures that it is considering new law to ban adverts for venues committing the most brutal animal cruelty of all –  the torture and breaking of baby and adult Asian elephants for easy use in tourism,” he said.

“Even now thousands of these places are promoted in the UK market.

“Public polling shows 90% of Britons back an immediate end to this.

“We will do all we can to support the Government in acting now, while the elephants still have time.”

Khao Kheow Open Zoo says it is doing nothing wrong, saying on its website : “It is our pride today that Thai zoo has an acceptable management, in terms of animal security, animal ethics and animal’s quality of life.”

investigate@mirror.co.uk





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