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Victory! Sunraysia Ends Sponsorship of Cruel Elephant Polo Match

March 22, 2018 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

In response to shocking video footage released earlier this week by PETA Asia showing handlers repeatedly beating elephants for Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort’s 2018 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Thailand, event sponsor Sunraysia has informed PETA that it’ll no longer support the cruel competition, which touts itself as a charity event for elephants.

In a letter to PETA, Sunraysia CEO Anthony Davie stated, “We are distressed by the footage and strongly condemn the mistreatment of elephants that it shows. … Now that you have brought this matter to our attention, we will be discontinuing our sponsorship of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo event.”

“By withdrawing its sponsorship, Sunraysia has set a positive example for other companies that still support such abusive spectacles to follow,” says PETA Outreach and Partnerships Liaison Emily Rice. “Elephants belong in the wild, not on polo fields, where they’re forced to obey confusing commands under the constant threat of punishment.”

The footage, shot from nearby hotel and apartment windows, shows handlers in a holding area next to the polo grounds repeatedly beating and jabbing the captive elephants’ heads with bullhooks – weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end  – which they also used to pull the animals by their extremely sensitive ears.

Elephants used for polo tournaments, rides, or any other type of entertainment endure violent training to force them into submission, during which they’re regularly beaten. Between matches, they’re often shackled so tightly that they can barely take a single step in any direction. Because of this cruelty, numerous tournaments have been cancelled or lost sponsors – and Guinness World Records has struck all mention of elephant polo records from its pages.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – has sent a box of vegan chocolates to Sunraysia executives in recognition of their swift and compassionate action.

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