Coerced by a human trainer perched upon their backs (& adamantly “tugging on their ears“) female Asian elephants at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chon Buri, Thailand are forced to perform in swimming tanks.
With the crowds cheering them on the elephants dive, completely submerging themselves underwater. Upon surfacing the elephants bob their heads endearingly to the delight of the men, women and children crowded behind the thick glass of the zoo’s large aquarium tank.
Zoo director Attaporn Sriheran continues to defend this entertainment (“Elephant Swimming Shows“) as ‘exercise for the elephants,’ and a humane practice. But those who have educated themselves & are aware of the behind-the-scenes cruelty involved in the method of training captive elephants, called phajaan or the crush , know better .
And as for the swimming. This in no way, Mr. Sriheran, resembles the playfulness of an elephant enjoying a lazy afternoon swimming & splashing in the water with their elephant family in the wild. Especially when one considers there is a human controlling the elephants’ behavior & sitting on her back.
For this reason elephant activists have launched a Care2 petition “These Swimming Elephants Are Having Anything But Fun. Help Get Their Freedom” to put an end to these unnatural (for our elephants) and inhumane performing elephant spectacles particularly the Khao Kheow Open Zoo’s swimming & diving elephant shows.
FYI: Elephants at this zoo in Thailand are also forced to walk on their hind legs. Now how natural is that for a wild elephant, Mr. Sriheran? (And no, we are not talking about an elephant standing on his hind legs while browsing; reaching up for leaves with his trunk from trees in the wild.)
And how much torture did those female elephants have to endure to learn that trick? How many hours in the crush? These practices must end. Our elephants cannot continue to suffer like that.
If you work with elephants you know. You know they are sentient creatures not unlike humans.
You know that the time has come, Mr. Sriheran, to choose the only proper home for a zoo elephant. Choose a life for these elephants in an elephant sanctuary, not a cruel existence “dancing” bobbing, weaving, swimming, diving & tippy toe “walking” in a side show. All in the name of human entertainment. This is more than sad. This is just wrong. When will people finally come to realize that?
Please sign the Care2 petition “These Swimming Elephants Are Having Anything But Fun. Help Get Their Freedom“
Resource & for more photos see: “Campaign calls for the end of underwater elephant swimming shows which see trainers pull the animals’ ears to make them dive in Thailand” by Chris Dyer for The Daily Mail Online
Image: from DailyMail Online captured from video by Jhunex32115 who retains full copyright
** RE: the Category AbZOOlutely Not** or The Controversy of Zoos & Others Keeping Elephants in Captivity. While there are some Zoos & others that demonstrate exemplary methods of elephant care, unfortunately, they do not represent the “lion’s share”.