PETA calls on PM Oli to end Chitwan Elephant Festival permanently

KATHMANDU: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has submittted a letter to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli asking him to permanently end the festival permanently that causes tremendous suffering to the elephants.

The letter issued to the PM in Tuesday claimed that PETA documented mahouts in the last editions of the festivals, relentlessly beating and jabbing elephants with sticks and makeshift wooden knives and violently yanking their ears in order to force the animals to race, give rides, and “play” polo and football.

The letter also claimed that one elephant was beaten for nearly a minute, and many animals sustained deep, bloody wounds.

“By permanently ending the Chitwan Elephant Festival, Nepal would be taking a meaningful stand for gentle elephants by refusing to continue to allow them to be exploited for stupid stunts,” said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker in the letter. “The festival is an abusive spectacle, and Prime Minister Oli must relegate it to the history books without delay.”

In the letter to the prime minister, Baker further writes, “Moving forward, ethical tourism could bolster the rebound of Nepal’s flagging tourism industry. The municipalities that sponsor the Chitwan Elephant Festival could attract tourists by investing in a sanctuary where elephants could retire and mahouts could maintain employment. Animal sanctuaries elsewhere have been extremely successful. For example, the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand has a long waiting list for anyone wanting to visit. People pay to watch elephants there at a safe distance – the animals don’t give rides and aren’t forced to play unnatural games, and visitors aren’t allowed to feed them.”

After learning about the cruelty, several sponsors have pulled their support of the festival, many businesses have stopped promoting it, and over 150,000 people have called for the event to end via PETA and its international affiliates’ campaign pages.