Target: Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand
Goal: End the abusive treatment of performing elephants at a cultural festival in Thailand.
Ever since the 1960s, elephants have been made to parade and perform various tricks as part of the Surin Elephant Round-Up held in Thailand each November. While originally intended as a relatively modest demonstration of the bond between the people of Surin Province and their local elephants, it has over time evolved into a cruel spectacle where elephants are forced to engage in unnatural behaviors like playing soccer or throwing darts at balloons. According to advocacy groups, mahouts (elephant caretakers) use a variety of cruel methods to coerce the animals to perform. Bull hooks and nail-studded sticks are frequently employed to keep mature elephants in line, while the younger ones are subjected to confinement and beating to break their spirit.
Currently, around 200 elephants appear in the week-long festival. More are continually added as new baby elephants are kidnapped in the wild jungles of Burma to be used as future performers. Videos and pictures from past years’ events reveal that the elephants are kept chained together in cramped spaces when not performing. Many bear scars from the training, and appear to suffer from repetitive stress syndrome. There have also been reports of people riding elephants with blood streaming from their foreheads.
All of these acts constitute both physical and psychological torture to animals so renowned for their intelligence and sensitivity. It’s bad enough that they are made to perform repetitive and menial tasks, but the additional accounts of mistreatment are absolutely unconscionable. We can do better for these remarkable creatures, and should demand that the Surin Elephant Round-Up stop abusing elephants each year.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I’m writing to ask you to stop the abusive practices that take place as part of the annual Surin Elephant Round-Up in Surin Province. Although the festival is intended to honor the bond between humans and elephants, it sadly showcases that this relationship is in part based on mistreatment. The blatant displays of horrific abuse that have been captured on video and in photographs appear to show a disregard for the elephants’ well-being. Unfortunately, this is not where the abuse begins. It starts years before, when young elephants are kidnapped, confined and beaten into submission. From start to end, the elephants are subjected to pain and deprivation.
There must be an alternative way to honor elephants during this cultural festival. We demand that you take action to intervene on the elephants’ behalf and ensure that they no longer face this inhumane treatment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Marcin Nowak