Everyone knows that when you are forced to do something against your will, something that would normally be considered fun becomes a downright chore.
That's probably how the elephants at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo
in Chon Buri, Thailand feel when it comes to swimming. Elephants love to swim, it is something they do in the wild. They use water to cool off, clean themselves and just goof around. But at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, they are forced to perform water shows for onlooking crowds day in and day out. That is anything but natural. In a video of one of their elephant water performances, one unlucky elephant is made to prance around a tank while bobbing her head above and below the surface.
Then she plunges to the bottom and does a few awkward tricks before coming back up for air. This all while mounted by her trainer. On the other side of the glass are hundreds of men, women, and children oohing and awing and enjoying their visit to the zoo — not realizing that this elephant isn't having any fun at all.
No elephant would exhibit these types of behaviors in the wild, so in order to make them do so for the crowds, trainers use cruel techniques to make sure their charges will do what they say when they say it. The training process, known as "phajaan," actually translates to "the crush" during which handlers beat animals into submission so that they will be docile for the public.
Elephants, like all other animals, were not created for nor should they be used for our entertainment. They have their own will and desires and deserve to live a life free from cruelty — preferably in the wild where they belong. Circuses, magic shows, zoos and aquarium spectacles that use live animals reduce living, breathing beings to objects. It's not only cruel, it is wrong. The Khao Kheow Open Zoo has no business doing elephant shows.
In fact, they have no business having elephants period. Facilities that allow the animals in their care to suffer for profit should no longer be given a pass. We must stand up and say enough is enough. Please sign this petition and demand that Chon Buri officials shut down this zoo and hand over their elephants to a sanctuary.