A FIVE star resort in Thailand has been slammed by animal activists after a baby elephant was used to entertain guests during a pool party.
Guests at Mövenpick Bangtao Beach in Phuket were able to pet the calf who was dressed in a white outfit.
Images show the elephant with a collar and a sheet on its back, while a woman holding some balloons strokes the animal.
Other guests look on as the calf is paraded around the edge of the swimming pool.
The image was posted on the hotel’s Facebook page, with the caption: “It’s a beautiful day in Phuket today. Be our guest…”
It was quickly deleted following a backlash.
Facebook users have slammed the hotel, with one saying it was a “poor decision”.
Robb Marchione wrote: “That you allow the gross mistreatment of elephants on your property is reason enough for us to start a boycott movement against your property. “
Katheryn Wise, World Animal Protection UK campaigns manager said: “It’s very sad to see a baby elephant forced to entertain guests at a pool party.
“Elephants are wild animals, not entertainers. Whether taken from the wild or bred in captivity all elephants used for unprotected close tourist contact will have undergone a traumatic training method known as ‘the crush’.
“This involves separating a young elephant calf from its mother, keeping it in isolation, depriving it of food and water, and in many cases beating it repeatedly until the animal is broken down and can be controlled by fear.”
The hotel has since apologised and claimed they did not supply the animal but that it was a guest who brought it to a “private event”.
In a comment on a Facebook post, they wrote: “We are aware of a post related to a baby elephant in our resort.
“We have investigated this situation and although we did not organise the party, we failed to disallow the activity and had mishandled the situation. We sincerely apologise for this matter.
“We are issuing a formal communication to all staff reiterating that our hotel employees are expected to act as ambassadors by respecting and protecting our environment.
“We have also informed our tour operator that such activity will not be allowed at our hotel.”
A spokesperson for the Accor group, who own Mövenpick, Sun Online Travel: “This was an isolated incident that occurred when a guest brought an elephant onto the property as part of a private event.
“Our hotels do not use animals for entertainment and this incident has allowed us the opportunity to reinforce to all our network the importance of ensuring the safety and welfare of animals who might enter their grounds.
“We sincerely apologise for this incident and are committed to doing better in the future to raise awareness of the importance of treating all creatures in an ethical way.
“We will work with our staff, guests and partners to ensure their understanding of the negative impacts of this kind of treatment of animals and you can be assured that we are immediately communicating with all our network to ensure such an incident does not occur in the future.
“As a group, we are committed to a strong environmental and social stance to protect the planet, its people and its creatures and we are treating this issue with the highest importance.”
Thailand is known for using elephants for tourist attractions while treating them cruelly.
Earlier this year, a baby elephant collapsed in Pattaya with exhaustion after being forced to carry tourists around in the heat.
A zookeeper was caught stabbing elephants with spikes to make them post at Thailand zoo.
There are ethical ways to meet the animals – for example, at the Koh Samui Elephant Sanctuary which looks after abused elephants.
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