BANGKOK, 1 November 2018: The Thailand Elephant Polo Association will not seek permission for a 2019 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament according to a PETA report released Wednesday.
PETA Asia, an organisation that protects animal rights and exposes cruelty, said the association’s decision not to host the polo event in 2019 confirmed it was ceasing its operations in Thailand.
The decision follows a PETA exposé, earlier this year, that horrified sponsors, causing them to withdraw support.
The 16th annual elephant polo event was hosted by the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, 8 to 11 March, and promoted for its range of “fun elephant festivities for the whole family including an impressive opening parade, children’s educational day, Ladies Day known as The Bangkok Ascot”.
It was also billed as one of the biggest charitable events in Southeast Asia with over USD1.5 million (THB 50 million) raised and donated to projects that better the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephant population.
Featuring what the event’s Facebook called “20 unemployed ex-street elephants” the organisers claimed the elephants received full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand as well as being fed essential vitamins, food and care, which were not available to them during their normal daily lives.
Despite the organiser’s public assertions dozen of companies including Ecolab, IBM, Angus Energy, Banfi Vintners, and Vespa withdrew sponsorship shortly after this year’s event concluded.
“No one with any decency or compassion wants elephants to be beaten bloody and forced to play polo, give rides, or perform stupid tricks,” said PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.
“PETA is pleased that this abusive spectacle is now history, and we’re committed to ensuring that all other animal-exploiting stunts disappear, too.”
The footage from PETA’s investigation, which was shot from the windows of hotels and apartments near the tournament venue, showed handlers in a holding area next to the polo grounds repeatedly beating and jabbing elephants’ heads with bullhooks — weapons resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end —which they also used to yank the animals by their extremely sensitive ears. Some elephants were beaten until they bled, and one was left chained in water all day.
PETA’s motto that reads, “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”, points out that elephants used for polo tournaments, rides, or any other type of entertainment endure violent training sessions to force them into submission, during which they’re regularly beaten.