Back in the day and in some parts of the world today, elephants are dab hands at a circus routine. Despite their size, they can blur the line between an enormous, bumbling mammal and a ballerina, performing incredible acts like walking the tightropes, gracefully jumping through hoops and balancing on their heads. Unfortunately these majestic giants are often mistreated as a result; a price a circus is often willing to pay to get audiences through the door.
Recently, shocking footage has emerged of a malnourished elephant performing to a virtually empty auditorium in Thailand and people are fuming.
Spectators got a shock
The poor adult female was spotted at a crocodile farm in the central Thai province Samut Prakan. The viral video has subsequently damaged the reputation of the long heralded zoo and has revealed a case of animal cruelty.
The video makes for difficult watching. The bleakness of the neglected auditorium can only be matched by the elephant’s skeletal frame. Her ribs and pelvis are clearly visible as she slowly goes through her ‘entertaining’ tricks. However, it’s anything but entertaining; she is clearly exhausted. As she slowly walks the tightrope, there is a feeling that the circus is desperately clinging onto its past successes that are now a distant memory. A devastating price to pay for a mere 10 spectators.
Back in the good ol’ days
However, the venue wasn’t always so deserted. It was built as the first crocodile farm in Thailand in the 1950s and very quickly grew to the size of a fully formed zoo. At the height of its fame, it boasted an impressive 60,000 crocodiles and numerous other animals. It quickly became a huge tourist attraction. However, it would seem the farm’s heyday is well and truly over as one local spoke about its former popularity.
24-year-old Ploy said, ”I was born on the same street as the zoo and it has been open all my life. I first went when I was 10 years old but haven’t been back since. It used to be very popular and there would be lots of tour buses arrives, but now it’s so quiet. I’m worried about the animals.”
And he’s not the only one. Other people in the area and various spectators have voiced similar concerns. One anonymous spokesperson said, “I’ve been visiting the zoo for a long time because I like to look at the animals. But when I visited last week I was upset when I saw one of the elephants. The elephant looked so thin and weak. I felt so sorry for him. I think he needs help.”
Although they were upset by the sight, the spectator was careful not to judge the zoo on their treatment of the elephant. They added, “I don’t want to say anything bad about the zoo, because they might be problems and cannot afford to look after the elephant. I would like people to help the elephant.”
The wrong kind of attention
Others are not so forgiving and the zoo has faced numerous accusations of animal cruelty and judging by the elephant in the video, it’s not hard to see why. But a representative of the zoo insists that the claims are false and that the animals are all fit and healthy. He defended the zoo, saying, “No, no, no. The elephants here are all healthy. They are all good. None of them are thin. They are all fed well. They do shows every day.”
However, it is still hard to ignore the elephant’s glaringly obvious ribcage and pelvis which suggest she’s underweight. A healthy Asian Elephant should weigh between 2,700kg and 5,400 kg. As of yet, the elephant’s weight has not been confirmed.
Photo credit: The Mirror