Horrifying photos have emerged of injured ‘entertainment’ elephants as Australian tourists traveling to Thailand are being begged not to ride the animals.
The images were shared on Twitter are believed to be taken in Phuket, one of the most popular holiday spots in the country.
The animals can be seen with blood dripping from their heads after their keepers repeatedly strike them with sharp metal hooks.
Others showed an elephant with a series of scars on the back of its head from old wounds.
More than 800,00 Australians visit Thailand each year, and many are drawn to several tourist attractions where they can be taken on elephant rides, watch them perform tricks and feed them.
World Animal Protection estimated that 3,000 elephants are currently being used for entertainment throughout Asia, with 77 percent being inhumanely treated.
‘Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business,’ a spokesperson for Tourism Authority of Thailand told Yahoo news.
‘We never support tourists riding the elephants.’
Dr. Patrapol Maneeorn, Wildlife Veterinarian of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said Thailand is working to eliminate animal cruelty.
‘What we are doing is collaborating with different organizations and sectors in Thailand to reduce and hopefully eliminate animal cruelty as much as possible,’ Dr. Maneeorn said in a statement.
There are currently 3,500 wild elephants and 4,500 domesticated elephants in Thailand.
Wild animals are protected by Thai law, but domesticated elephants are seen as working animals.
Dr. Maneeorn said that government agencies have tried various methods to eradicate elephant abuse in the country, including ‘policy-making, supporting research on wildlife, rehabilitating injured animals, and eradicating the illegal wild animal trade’.
He says that tourists can play their part in the matter, by boycotting attractions that exploit elephants for entertainment purposes.
‘Travel businesses and individual tourists can help government agencies by boycotting businesses that do not take good care of animals,’ he said.
The process of domesticating an elephant is as horrific as the treatment they are subjected to.
Animals are tied to short chains, beaten with bullhooks and other sharp objects and underfed in order to make them behave, only for this to continue while they are kept in captivity.
Some animals develop a behavior where they sway their head from side to side, often misunderstood as a playful tendency, the movement actually is a coping mechanism for isolated elephants.
Many elephants are taken from their mothers as babies before being subjected to a lifetime of abuse.
Some sanctuaries in Thailand, such as Elephant Valley, are trying to prevent the mistreatment of these animals.
Here elephants can roam as they please and are only fed by humans once a day, as opposed to other captive elephants who are constantly being forced to perform for tourists.
‘There is no such thing as a domesticated elephant,’ Elephant Valley founder Jack Highwood told Daily Mail Australia in June.
‘There are only elephants who have lost their will to fight back.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Tourism Authority of Thailand for comment.
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