New York Times

Rescuers battle to save starving elephant found ‘days from death’ and covered in sores in Thailand

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This is the dramatic moment rescuers battled to save a starving elephant that was found ‘days from death’ after it was neglected at a Thai tourist camp closed by coronavirus.   

The fifty-year-old male jumbo named Khun Pan had been working at the Chang Siam Park in Chonburi, eastern Thailand, giving rides to tourists until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry, with holidaymakers banned from visiting.  

Tragically, the elephant was left to starve – becoming so thin that his bones were protruding from his skin. 

Khun Pan was found covered in sores from where he had been laying on hard, dusty ground, while his long ivory tusks had started to weaken and crack. 

The starving elephant that was found 'days from death' after it was neglected at a Thai tourist camp closed by coronavirus. The elephant was found covered in cuts and sores with his bones protruding from his skin. Pictured: Khun Pan was hoisted up and attached to a tree after he was too weak to stand

The starving elephant that was found ‘days from death’ after it was neglected at a Thai tourist camp closed by coronavirus. The elephant was found covered in cuts and sores with his bones protruding from his skin. Pictured: Khun Pan was hoisted up and attached to a tree after he was too weak to stand

Tragically, the elephant was left to starve - becoming so thin that his bones were protruding from his skin

Tragically, the elephant was left to starve - becoming so thin that his bones were protruding from his skin

Tragically, the elephant was left to starve – becoming so thin that his bones were protruding from his skin

Khun Pan was found covered in sores from where he had been laying on hard, dusty ground, while his long ivory tusks had started to weaken and crack. Pictured: Medics put solution on the sores to help heal them and protect them from infection

Khun Pan was found covered in sores from where he had been laying on hard, dusty ground, while his long ivory tusks had started to weaken and crack. Pictured: Medics put solution on the sores to help heal them and protect them from infection

Khun Pan was found covered in sores from where he had been laying on hard, dusty ground, while his long ivory tusks had started to weaken and crack. Pictured: Medics put solution on the sores to help heal them and protect them from infection

Shocked locals alerted vets after they saw the jumbo’s heartbreaking condition over the weekend. 

Medics from an animal hospital in nearby Pattaya arrived at the Chang Siam Park on Saturday and found the elephant was too weak to stand on its own as it was just a few days from death. 

They had to hoist the elephant up with leather straps which was attached to a nearby tree to give it support and help it stand. The medics also gave an IV drip with saline solution to rehydrate the jumbo.        

Medics from an animal hospital in nearby Pattaya arrived at the Chang Siam Park on Saturday and found the elephant was too weak to stand on its own as it was just a few days from death

Medics from an animal hospital in nearby Pattaya arrived at the Chang Siam Park on Saturday and found the elephant was too weak to stand on its own as it was just a few days from death

Medics from an animal hospital in nearby Pattaya arrived at the Chang Siam Park on Saturday and found the elephant was too weak to stand on its own as it was just a few days from death

They had to hoist the elephant up with leather straps which was attached to a nearby tree to give it support and help it stand. The medics also gave an IV drip with saline solution to rehydrate the jumbo

They had to hoist the elephant up with leather straps which was attached to a nearby tree to give it support and help it stand. The medics also gave an IV drip with saline solution to rehydrate the jumbo

They had to hoist the elephant up with leather straps which was attached to a nearby tree to give it support and help it stand. The medics also gave an IV drip with saline solution to rehydrate the jumbo

Khun Pan's owner, Lee Petchkla, 55, blamed the lack of tourists for the elephant's condition. Pictured: The elephant was hoisted up by the tree to help it stand

Khun Pan's owner, Lee Petchkla, 55, blamed the lack of tourists for the elephant's condition. Pictured: The elephant was hoisted up by the tree to help it stand

Khun Pan’s owner, Lee Petchkla, 55, blamed the lack of tourists for the elephant’s condition. Pictured: The elephant was hoisted up by the tree to help it stand

The elephant's body was covered in sores and cuts when the medics found him, with the jumbo unable to stand properly

The elephant's body was covered in sores and cuts when the medics found him, with the jumbo unable to stand properly

The elephant’s body was covered in sores and cuts when the medics found him, with the jumbo unable to stand properly

Khun Pan’s owner, Lee Petchkla, 55, blamed the lack of tourists for the elephant’s condition.

He said that after holidaymakers were banned last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had struggled to feed Khun Pan. 

A second outbreak of coronavirus cases in December and resulting lockdown had meant he could not afford pineapples or other sources of nutrition to feed to the emaciated jumbo.

Lee said: ‘I have 37 elephants at the camp and they’re all struggling. However, Khun Pan is the weakest elephant because of his old age.

The elephant's owner said second outbreak of coronavirus cases in December and resulting lockdown had meant he could not afford pineapples or other sources of nutrition to feed to the emaciated jumbo. Pictured: The frail jumbo which was found with bones protuding from its body

The elephant's owner said second outbreak of coronavirus cases in December and resulting lockdown had meant he could not afford pineapples or other sources of nutrition to feed to the emaciated jumbo. Pictured: The frail jumbo which was found with bones protuding from its body

The elephant’s owner said second outbreak of coronavirus cases in December and resulting lockdown had meant he could not afford pineapples or other sources of nutrition to feed to the emaciated jumbo. Pictured: The frail jumbo which was found with bones protuding from its body

Vets and kind locals tended to the elephant and fed him fresh food and gave him attention

Vets and kind locals tended to the elephant and fed him fresh food and gave him attention

Vets and kind locals tended to the elephant and fed him fresh food and gave him attention

‘The pandemic has meant there are no tourists and I don’t have any income to feed them. I don’t know what else to do.’

Lee, who also runs shows with monkeys in fancy dress riding bikes, said the elephants at the camp used to generate income from controversial shows – performing tricks for tourists and giving rides.

He added: ‘I will try my best to take care or them. I hope they can get proper care from an expert. If there are no more tourists, I will take them back to my village.’

Vets and kind locals who arrived at the park on Saturday fed some much-needed bananas and sugarcane to the starving elephant. 

Vets and kind locals who arrived at the park on Saturday fed some much-needed bananas and sugarcane to the starving elephant

Vets and kind locals who arrived at the park on Saturday fed some much-needed bananas and sugarcane to the starving elephant

Vets and kind locals who arrived at the park on Saturday fed some much-needed bananas and sugarcane to the starving elephant

The locals arrived with a large truck of bananas, pineapples and sugarcane for the starving elephant

The locals arrived with a large truck of bananas, pineapples and sugarcane for the starving elephant

The locals arrived with a large truck of bananas, pineapples and sugarcane for the starving elephant

He was a little stronger the next day as vets continued tending to the sores and cuts across his frail body.

Despite concerns for the elephant’s health, Khun Pan was allowed to stay at the park – and was still there today. 

Reacting to the images of the elephant, Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said: ‘Elephant camps, which have profited from elephant suffering for decades, should rehome elephants at reputable sanctuaries like BLES immediately before they die from neglect and starvation.

‘Elephants like this emaciated one are living a life of torment for Thailand’s ‘entertainment’ industry. The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for any facility that exploits elephants and other animals for profit to reflect on what the future holds.

‘There is a growing recognition that elephant rides, forcing elephants to perform other ‘tricks’, and keeping them captive for profit is ethically indefensible. 

Despite concerns for the elephant's health, Khun Pan was allowed to stay at the park - and was still there today. Pictured: Locals feed the elephant bananas after he became a little stronger

Despite concerns for the elephant's health, Khun Pan was allowed to stay at the park - and was still there today. Pictured: Locals feed the elephant bananas after he became a little stronger

Despite concerns for the elephant’s health, Khun Pan was allowed to stay at the park – and was still there today. Pictured: Locals feed the elephant bananas after he became a little stronger

The elephant was saved by medics after caring locals alerted them to the devastating condition of the elephant

The elephant was saved by medics after caring locals alerted them to the devastating condition of the elephant

The elephant was saved by medics after caring locals alerted them to the devastating condition of the elephant

‘PETA urges everyone who genuinely cares about elephants to never support any facility that exploits these majestic animals and instead donate to campaigns that actually protect elephants in their native habitats.’

Dozens of animal welfare groups around the world have condemned the use of elephants as tourist attractions. They have campaigned to end the use of elephants at tourist attractions and called on tour operators to stop selling tickets to such shows.

Jason Baker, PETA vice president of international campaigns, said that elephants only perform because of the threat of violence.

He said: ‘These elephants are not performing because it’s fun. It’s because they’re scared of the abuse they will get if they don’t.’

An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild in Thailand and a similar number in captivity, where they live in sanctuaries, zoos or work privately for hire at weddings and festivals.

Restrictions on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that elephants in Thailand’s tourism industry have suffered, with many sanctuaries and camps that use them struggling to pay for their upkeep.

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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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