Animal rights activists on Thursday called for an end to Thailand’s abuse of animals for entertainment and tourism purposes after a baby elephant was seen to forcibly dance in the viral video.
According to the Thai Elephant Alliance Association, over 3,700 elephants are privately owned in Thailand. Many are used as part of the tourism industry.
Elephant tourism has long been associated with Thailand with elephants used to entertain tourists beachside and in provincial cities.
A viral video of a dancing baby elephant named “Pho Jai” was posted on a Youtube channel. Pho Jai was rented out for a monk ordination ceremony in Surin province.
Edwin Wiek, the founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, told Thai Enquirer that the practice should stop.
“It’s all about profits now,” Wiek said. “No one should own wild animals, even if the elephants have long been a part of Thailand’s culture.”
Wiek also said that training elephants to dance involves a cruel process intended to break the animals in.
Bhurita Wattanasak, an official at the Watchdog Thailand Foundation, told Thai Enquirer that overusing animals for any purpose is against the law.
“Overusing animals is considered animal abuse which is against the Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act,” Bhurita said.
She said that the reason people do not fear this act is that it’s a new law and the maximum penalty is not effective in reducing crime.