Skeletal Elephants Were Seen Being Forced To Perform At This ‘Zoo’

After a photograph of a skeletal elephant on his knees surfaced online last month, an overwhelming public outcry actually helped make a bit of difference for the captive animals there.

Two of the five elephants at the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo in Thailand appeared to be severely underweight — and they were still being forced to perform tricks for visitors. Zoo staff insisted that the animals weren’t suffering from any health issues. 

In this case, internet backlash actually sparked action: Local authorities from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation inspected the zoo (whose license had lapsed in 2016, it was later discovered), and examined the elephants.

Investigators found that the animals had lost several of their teeth and couldn’t chew the food the zoo was giving them, according to the Bangkok Post. They were slowly starving because of this. 

Thankfully, the investigators ordered the zoo staff to allow the elephants to rest and to figure out a plan for bringing up their weight through softer foods. 

But the incident sheds light on just one case — and it’s hard not to consider how many cases go unseen at facilities like this due to a lack of regulation.

“Thailand, like many other countries in the region, faces numerous challenges in detecting and suppressing the trafficking of its native wildlife,” Nuggehalli Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International (HSI) in India, told The Dodo. “Lack of strong animal welfare legislation and lack of regulation of zoos, circus and street performance has resulted in [the] suffering of elephants.”

There are indications that progress is being made. “In March last year, [Thailand] announced a 10 percent increase in elephant numbers within protected areas,” Jayasimha said. But there’s still room to grow: “Having a robust animal protection legislation that will create a deterrent to animal abusers will have a positive impact.” 

You can have a positive impact on elephants abroad by remembering to always be an ethical tourist and by making a donation to HSI

Londoners will soon be able to ice skate with real penguins at Queens Skate Dine Bowl

Whether you’re like Bambi on the ice or have the skills of a pirouetting professional, Londoners of all abilities will have the chance to ice skate with real life penguins later this month.

Meet and greet: You could skate with real-life penguins

Queens Skate Dine Bowl, located near Bayswater station, will see five Humboldt penguins waddle onto its ice rink on Saturday January 19.

The black and white creatures will take centre stage of the rink, in their own purpose built pen and — in the interest of penguin safety — a hip-height barrier will be in place to protect them.

Guests will have the chance to greet the penguins and their professional handlers between 4-8pm, though it will be adults-only after 7pm.

For those who would prefer to sit back and watch the action, there’s rinkside viewing available for £5 with all profits going towards BirdLife international, a bird conservation charity. Donations will also be welcome, as the one-off animal ice skating session is in honour of Penguin Awareness Day.

Animal rights organisation PETA, however, have responded with a letter to the manager of the venue asking to cancel the event, saying the animals will “experience stress in the presence of humans.”

The letter reads: “A busy, noisy venue such as yours, filled with bright lights and excited children and adults, is an entirely unsuitable environment for penguins or any other animals.”

Queens are yet to reply.