Activists and animal welfare experts fear that the minute COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Thailand, struggling families will sell their elephants -- who have lived blissfully in their home villages ever since the pandemic meant they could not entertain tourists in cities -- to cruel logging companies or unethical zoos and circuses.
Sign the petition demanding that the Government of Thailand provide funding for elephant caregivers' wages and their elephants' expenses so that these elephants can remain safe and happy, instead of exploited and abused!
To make matters worse, many of these elephants are pairs of mother and baby and the plan is to separate them. Babies are highly desired by zoos and circuses, since they are young and small -- able to be controlled, manipulated, trained, and coerced into submission. Mothers, on the other hand, are large and powerful -- perfect for the hellish labor on logging sites, dragging lumber for hours on end with no rest or comfort.
When taken in by zoos or circuses, baby elephants are put through a period of mental breaking, where they are abused to the point of total submission. Then, their entire lives are spent entertaining loud, stressful crowds for the monetary gain of their captors. They often live in barren enclosures, too small for proper exercise; they are offered no socialization, something that is intrinsic to elephant behavior; and they will be beaten, starved, and denied love until they die -- from their physical wounds, their deteriorated mental and emotional states, or some combination.
Their mothers face no better futures at logging companies. Elephants are forced to toil for hours on end pulling miserably heavy loads on chains that dig and cut into their skin. They are given drugs to extend these grueling days of work and tortured relentlessly if they stop or behave in any way that their handlers don't want.
For Asian elephants like the ones in Thailand, captivity literally translates to death. In a study that followed both wild and captive elephants, free elephants were found to live an average of 56 years while those imprisoned only survived 19 years.
The fates of 15 babies and 23 others -- 38 poor elephants in total -- hang in the balance. Animal welfare groups, charities, and nonprofits are scrambling to get enough money to these elephants' families so that the animals needn't be sold into lives of horrible solitude, abuse, and hard labor. But Thailand's government has a responsibility to these elephants, the country's national symbol and animals protected under the Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act. While zoos, circuses, and logging companies are not illegal, none of them hold true to the standards in the law, which outlines that owners must "raise, nurture and keep the animals in appropriate conditions with good health and sanitation and with sufficient food and water."
Please sign the petition asking the Thai government to do the right thing and provide funding so that these elephants, their babies, and their caregivers can continue to live free from cruelty!