Abused elephants inside Thai zoo dropped by tour firms

Harrowing footage shows disheveled animals inside a cruel Thai zoo that has just been dropped by Asia’s biggest online travel agency.

The Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo sparked outrage last December when footage emerged of a painfully thin elephant being forced to perform tricks for crowds.

Since then, animal rights groups including PETA have have pressured tour companies to stop taking holidaymakers to the enclosure just south of Bangkok.

Chinese firm Ctrip – Asia’s biggest online booking agency that handles millions of holidaymakers a year – has now ditched the zoo and stopped selling tickets to the facility. The firm owns Skyscanner, Trip, and Tours4fun.

Yet despite the growing pressure from activists, the zoo continues to operate and animals are still in appalling conditions.

Footage taken last week shows traumatised elephants chained up while rocking their heads from side to side in a sign of ”psychological distress”.

They are then lead into an area where they are forced to stand on one leg, kick footballs and throw bowling balls at rows of skittles.

Holidaymakers can place tips in their trunks, pose with them for pictures, and walk under their massive bodies.

The treatment seen in the video has been criticised by animal welfare groups.

PETA announced yesterday that Ctrip would now stop selling tickets to the zoo and called on other tour operators to follow.

Spokesman Jason Baker said: ”Ctrip did the right thing in nixing tickets to this despicable, abusive, brazen operation. PETA is calling on all travel companies still offering excursions to such facilities to follow Ctrip’s compassionate, business-savvy example and strike exploitative businesses from their itineraries.”

PETA said that the ”zoo handlers jabbed elephants with sharp metal spikes and forced them to give rides and perform tricks such as bowling, painting, and dancing.”

The charity said that the elephants could not interact with each other and ”continuously swayed back and forth, a symptom of psychological distress”.

The zoo also houses Asian Black Bears – which were filmed scratching nervously against the side of a concrete pool.

Crocodiles are also kept in cramped enclosures and swim in filthy ponds, while tigers and gorillas spend their days in tiny cages.

The Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo declined to comment when called.

NASDAQ listed Ctrip was founded in 1999 and provides travel services including accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management.

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