Abuse at Elephant Football Attraction
Thousands of tourists each year visit attractions in Thailand where animal shows are put on for their entertainment. Particularly popular are elephant shows, such as ‘elephant football’, where the elephants are trained and encouraged to kick a football into a net. Other shows include elephants with hula hoops, or balancing on their hind legs.
The secret behind these shows is a dark one however. The training the elephants must endure includes first being ‘crushed’ – in Thailand the method is called the Phajaan – to make them afraid of their trainers; and then specifically trained to perform the required task. As the above video clearly shows, the elephants often need reminding, in the most brutal fashion, of what they are meant to be doing. You can see a longer, but just as harrowing video, on the Care for the Wild YouTube Channel.
** We’ve started a petition to try and put an end to abuse at elephant football and other similar shows – please sign and share, thank you:
We’re grateful to tourist Patricia, from Argentina, for sending us this report, and the videos, from her trip to the Namuang Safari attraction in Ko Samui, Thailand:
“This was happening from the beginning of the show. I started taking a third video but it stopped because we stood up and started to shout to the guy to stop. He wouldn’t and he made it worse, because he stuck that stick in her head, the pointed stuff was stuck in her head. I started to cry, and scream at the man, but the narrator said: ‘When she is bold we have to do this – it is part of the show.’ My boyfriend took me out because I was losing my temper.
“The narrator said that on other occasions the elephant wouldn’t care. And when a kid maybe 5 years old was getting anxious he said ‘sit that kid down or I’ll finish the show right now’. The whole thing was really upsetting.”
Patricia also took part in an elephant trek which is offered by the attraction:
“We realized that the one that was in front of us was incredible huge. We asked if she was pregnant because she was moving and walking but she wasn’t doing it normally. It was because she was pregnant and there were two people on top of her …really sad, ahh really sad.
“To be honest, I dont think that I would ever be able to do another elephant trek in my life. I dont know what I was even thinking, it sounded exciting when we decided to do it, but when I was there I really felt very guilty. My fiance and I are not heavy but we were on top on this baby elephant named Vicko, just five years old. I just don’t feel proud after what I saw.
“I have never supported animal shows and I had never been in Thailand. I didn’t intend to go to these shows but it just happens that we got the opportunity and we went. It was so sad seeing the other animals too, like tigers in tiny cages. It feels really wrong and I do have a picture with the elephant but I dont feel good about it anymore after what I saw and experienced. We do want to see animals in the wild not like that anymore.”
We’re also Crowdfunding to try and raise money so we can spread our message far and wide:
Many thanks to Patricia. If you have seen animals being exploited or abused on holiday, please tell us so we can tell the world, and try to help. Contact us here.