PETA India Releases Findings Of Investigation Into Barbaric Elephant Training In Nepal

For Immediate Release:
23 August 2011

Sandra Smiley +44 (0)207 357 9229, ext 229; [email protected]

London – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India is releasing video footage and photographs taken during an undercover investigation that show how baby elephants in Nepal are taken from their mothers, chained, hit and brushed with flames so that they can be forced to give rides to people. Baby elephants are taken away from their mothers when they are just 2 years old. They are tied up a few metres away from their mothers, who are also immobilised by chains. The babies cry and frantically struggle to reach their mothers for several days before losing hope. At age 3, the cruel training begins.

Increasing numbers of British tourists visit Nepal, and many of them inadvertently support this cruelty. An estimated 35,000 British tourists visited Nepal last year – a number which is expected to rise as the Nepalese embassy in London continues its high-profile publicity campaign to boost tourism from the UK as part of the National Tourism Year 2011 programme.

“This barbaric abuse shows the high and indefensible price paid by elephants used for entertainment”, says PETA Vice President of International Affairs Poorva Joshipura. “The only way that this cruelty will stop is if tourists and members of the public refuse to take elephant rides or pay for any performances by elephants.”

Elephant calves are shackled and tied tightly to poles, often for hours at a time. They are then hit, prodded with sticks and subjected to loud noises. They have flaming torches thrust against their faces and bodies. Trainers repeatedly brush the calves’ faces, trunks, legs and bodies with the fire, causing painful burns and causing sparks to fly into their eyes. Heavy chains and restrainers with iron nails are used to restrict the calves’ movements, often puncturing the animals’ flesh. Hooks are usually pierced through the elephants’ sensitive ears, and riders yank on the hooks to steer the animals. Open wounds are commonly visible on the elephants’ foreheads from sustained hitting with sticks. If the elephants attempt to retreat from frightening situations, they are hit on the head.

Abuse of elephants used to give rides and forced to perform in other ways doesn’t occur just in Nepal. PETA’s US affiliate obtained video footage of trainers in Thailand who repeatedly gouged the flesh of baby elephants with ankuses until the immobilised animals bled profusely and screamed out in pain. (See the video here.) Baby elephants in India are also torn away from their mothers and beaten into submission with ankuses in order to train them to give rides.