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Torturous training regimes young elephants endure for tourism in Thailand exposed in video

A video shared by an animal protection organisation has revealed the horrifying lengths some in Thailand’s elephant tourism industry go to in order to train young elephants for tourist attractions.

Warning: Material in the video and article may be distressing.

Released by World Animal Protection, the video shows the cruel training process, also known as "the crush", that young elephants endure to be readied for tourist activities such as riding and bathing and performing.

Footage seen in the video was filmed at an elephant training camp in Thailand between 2018 and 2020, according to World Animal Protection.

Trainers use a range of methods to break the elephants' spirits, the organisation says, which are shown in the video.

Those practices include the use of a bull-hook, which is a metal tool used to jab sensitive areas, as well as chains to restrain them and frequent exposure to stressful situations.

Footage has been released by World Animal Protection to bring attention to the cruel practices. It's calling for all New Zealand tourists to avoid captive elephant tourism attractions when travelling resumes post-Covid-19.

Ben Pearson, head of campaigns at World Animal Protection New Zealand, says activities such as elephant riding, shows and bathing "all support acute animal cruelty".

“We want to expose the true suffering elephants endure for a lifetime just so travellers can have their 'once in a lifetime’ holiday experience," says Mr Pearson.

“Tourism has come to a halt, but it will re-build, and this is the ideal opportunity to create a responsible and resilient future for wild animals."