Baby Elephant Dies at Thailand Zoo Days After Being Forced to Perform For Tourists

The young elephant, known as the real-life Dumbo to animal activists, died after breaking both of its back legs at the Phuket Zoo

Several days after gaining international attention, Jumbo the three-year-old elephant — known as the real-life Dumbo to animal activists — died at an elephant hospital after being transferred there by Thailand’s Phuket Zoo, reports Moving Animals.

In April, Moving Animals released photos and video of the conditions the young elephant endured. The footage showed the skeletal-looking animal in chains being forced to perform tricks and take selfies with tourists. The animal rights group also claimed that Jumbo — also known as Ping Pong — along with several other elephants, performed several times a day under the threat of a bull hook.

In an effort to help the real-life Dumbo, Moving Animals started a petition with Care2 to have Jumbo moved to an animal sanctuary where he could live his life in peace. The petition received over 200,000 signatures, and garnered enough outrage to prompt the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) to check in on the baby elephant, reports The Phuket News.

The DLD found that Jumbo was underweight and ordered the zoo to remove the elephant from performances until he was healthier. The DLD told The Phuket News that, aside from the elephant’s size, the zoo was providing adequate care to the young animal.

Unfortunately, the DLD’s order to look after Jumbo’s health and Moving Animals’ plea to have the animal moved, were not enough to save the elephant.

According to Moving Animals, Jumbo developed an infection in his digestive tract, which made him so weak that his legs “snapped beneath him” while he was trying to pull himself out of the mud. The organization says the zoo didn’t realize the elephant’s back legs were broken for three days.

Moving Animals

“Veterinarians from the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) advised us to keep a close eye on his health because he was becoming weak from an infection. The vets came to check on him and provided him medical treatment, but he was not getting better. His condition kept deteriorating, so he we had him taken to the Elephant Hospital in Krabi, where he was admitted on April 17,” zoo manager Pichai Sakunsorn told The Phuket News.

The Phuket News reports that it was the elephant hospital that discovered that the elephant’s back legs were broken. Jumbo died three days after arriving at the facility and was buried on the hospital’s grounds.


Moving Animals if horrified with the ending to this real-life Dumbo story.

“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 realize for three days. I can’t bring myself to imagine Dumbo’s suffering during this time,” the organization said in a statement. “For Dumbo to die whilst under the so-called ‘care’ and ‘treatment’ of the zoo shows just how neglected these animals are in captivity.”

The DLD told The Phuket News they plan to investigate the death and take legal action if necessary, but, since the zoo has not broken any laws, the Phuket Zoo will be allowed to purchase another baby elephant if they want to.

The Phuket Zoo did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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