Emaciated elephant found covered in sores after being neglected at tourist camp

Video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7bwhgjnruaacpp2/VRP11465.mp4?dl=0

An emaciated elephant was found covered in sores after being neglected and left to starve at a tourist camp.

The fifty-year-old male jumbo named Khun Pan had been working at the centre giving rides until the pandemic hit tourism in Chonburi, eastern Thailand.

Tragically, the elephant was left to starve – becoming so thin that its bones were poking through its skin.

Khun Pan’s long ivory tusks also started to weaken and crack while sores covered its body from where it had been laying on the hard, dusty ground.

Shocked locals noticed the jumbo’s heartbreaking condition over the weekend and alerted vets.

They arrived at the ‘Chang Siam’ park on Saturday (Feb 13) and found the elephant was too weak to stand on its own, just a few days from death.

Medics from an animal hospital in nearby Pattaya had to hoist the elephant up with leather straps supported by a tree to give it support. They also gave an IV drip with saline solution to rehydrated poor Khun Pan.

Khun Pan’s owner, Lee Petchkla, 55, blamed the lack of tourists for the elephant’s condition.

He said that after holidaymakers were banned last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had struggled to feed Khun Pan. A second outbreak of cases in December and resulting lockdown had meant he could afford pineapples to feed to the emaciated jumbo.

Lee said: ‘I have 37 elephants at the camp and they’re all struggling. However, Khun Pan is the weakest elephant because of his old age.

‘The pandemic has meant there are no tourists and I don’t have any income to feed them. I don’t know what else to do.’

Lee, who also runs shows with monkeys in fancy dress riding bikes, said the elephants at the camp used to generate income from controversial shows – performing tricks for tourists and giving rides.

He added: ‘I will try my best to take care or them. I hope they can get proper care from an expert. If there are no more tourists, I will take them back to my village.’

Vets and kind locals arrived at the elephant camp on Saturday, where they fed some much-needed bananas and sugarcane to Khun Pan.

He was a little stronger the next day as vets continued tending to the sores and cuts across his frail body.

Despite concerns for the elephant’s health, Khun Pan was allowed to stay at the park. He was still there today (Feb 15).

Reacting to the images of the elephant, Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said: ‘Elephant camps, which have profited from elephant suffering for decades, should rehome elephants at reputable sanctuaries like BLES immediately before they die from neglect and starvation.

‘Elephants like this emaciated one are living a life of torment for Thailand’s ‘entertainment’ industry. The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for any facility that exploits elephants and other animals for profit to reflect on what the future holds.

‘There is a growing recognition that elephant rides, forcing elephants to perform other ‘tricks’, and keeping them captive for profit is ethically indefensible. PETA urges everyone who genuinely cares about elephants to never support any facility that exploits these majestic animals and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect elephants in their native habitats.’

Dozens of animal welfare groups around the world have condemned the use of elephants as tourist attractions. They have campaigned to end the use of elephants at tourist attractions and called on tour operators to stop selling tickets to such shows.

Jason Baker, PETA vice president of international campaigns, said that elephants only perform because of the threat of violence.

He said: ‘These elephants are not performing because it’s fun. It’s because they’re scared of the abuse they will get if they don’t.’

An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild in Thailand and a similar number in captivity, where they live in sanctuaries, zoos or work privately for hire at weddings and festivals.

Restrictions on travel due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic have meant that elephants in Thailand’s tourism industry have suffered, with many sanctuaries and camps that use them struggling to pay for their upkeep.