In Thailand, approximately 3,800 of the country¹s estimated 5,000 endangered Asian elephants are in private hands. Most are used as tourist attractions in elephant camps where they are forced to perform circus tricks and give rides. PETA has uncovered the horrific torture that is routine in Thailand¹s secret ³training² camps. Still-nursing baby elephants are literally dragged from their mothers, kicking and screaming. They are immobilized, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time. These ritualized ³training² sessions leave the elephants badly injured, traumatized, or even dead.
Thailand¹s elephants, both in the wild and in captivity, are victims of thecountry¹s tourist industry. Each baby broken and sold to one of Thailand¹s 40-plus elephant camps brings between $2,000 and $4,650 dollars. Under the guise of ecotourism, elephants are forced to perform circus tricks, paint pictures with their trunks, play instruments and give rides to tourists. As a result, cash-strapped villagers and poachers are ready, willing, and able to cash in on the baby elephant bonanza. The three baby elephants depicted in the accompanying video represent only a fraction of those broken in villages across Thailand. In just four months, this one village alone subjected approximately 10 baby elephants to this ritualized torture and abuse, also known as "Phaajaan". "Phaajaan" means ³to break the love between "two" (e.g., between mother and baby). While the mahouts claim to have killed "only one" elephant, it is estimated that half of all elephants subjected to the breaking process do not survive.
In the wild, poachers routinely kill mother elephants in order to steal and break their young. According to officials in Thailand, "Poachers need to kill their mothers because elephants have strong maternal instincts and do not allow anyone near their offspring - baby elephants continue suckling their mother, even after their death, and refuse to move with the herd."
There are approximately 5,000 elephants in Thailand; the majority of them are in private hands. It is imperative that the torture revealed by PETA not be allowed to continue.