Elephants are some of the gentlest, most intelligent creatures in the world, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when we hear of one being treated unkindly.
An elephant at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand was being forced to swim underwater, her suffering quite visible, as a trainer stands on her neck and pulls her ears.
According to the Dodo, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the horrors these animals face.
The elephants are trained to “swim” through physical and psychological abuse, experts say. Sharp bullhooks are often used by the mahouts who pose as “trainers,” though it’s clear their animals have developed an aversion to the tool.
“For the bullhook to be effective, an elephant must be taught to fear the device and learn that compliance with commands avoids a painful consequence such as being hit, stabbed or beaten,” Catherine Doyle, director of science, research and advocacy for the Performing Animal Welfare Society, told The Dodo. “As long as an elephant associates the bullhook with pain, and remains fearful of it (through repeated reminders by handlers), the mere presence of the device is menacing enough to control an elephant.”
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