Baby elephant dubbed 'Dumbo' forced to dance in zoo has died
A baby elephant in Thailand, who had been dubbed the real-life 'Dumbo', has died after a short life marred by abuse, according to charity Moving Animals.
The young elephant had been forced to dance for tourists in the southeast Asian country. He became the focus of media attention worldwide when Moving Animals shared heartbreaking footage of the evidently malnourished animal 'dancing' to rave music and "playing" musical instruments at Phuket Zoo.
The charity took action by starting a petition to have the elephant transferred to a nearby sanctuary. Initially, it seemed promising, with the petition receiving over 200,000 signatures.
Warning: Some people may find this footage upsetting:
Tragically, however, before the creature could be saved, he died after severe damage to his legs caused them to snap.
The incident which caused his legs to snap has been referred to by vets as a "horrible accident". His front legs had gotten stuck in the mud while he was holding himself up with his back legs on dry ground.
"First, he tried to lift himself out with his back right leg, but the bone was too thin and too brittle, and the stress on it caused it to break," the vet who treated the elephant explained. "So, he tried to push himself out of the mud with his back left leg, and that broke, too."
Staff at the zoo eventually removed the severely injured animal from the mud, unaware that his legs were broken. He received treatment at the zoo before finally being taken to hospital where he died three days later.
"This is a tragic and horrific end to Dumbo's heartbreakingly-short life," Amy Jones, co-founder of Moving Animals, said: "His skeletal body clearly suggested that he was unwell and could be suffering from malnourishment and exhaustion.
"And yet the zoo did nothing until receiving international criticism. Under their care, this baby elephant broke both of his back legs, and the zoo did not even realise for three days. I can't bring myself to imagine Dumbo's suffering during this time.
"For Dumbo to die whilst under the so-called 'care' and 'treatment' of the zoo shows just how neglected these animals are in captivity.
"We hope that Dumbo is now finding the peace that he was so cruelly denied in his life, and that his tragic story will urge Thai authorities to finally put an end to these outdated animal performances."
Meanwhile, Pichai Sakunsorn, manager of Phuket Zoo, tells The Phuket News that he is "deeply saddened" by the elephant's death. "Nobody wants to lose something they love. We did the best we could do to protect him," he added.