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Lucy the elephant, tethered for Phuket tourists outside a souvenir market

Chained Phuket Elephant Lucy Tugs at Emotions

Thursday, January 20, 2011
COCERNS about the care of a young elephant on Phuket, left chained for long periods to attract tourists, were dismissed by the owner of the animal today.

The elephant, Lucy, is three years old. One Phuket resident who passes Lucy regularly said: ''It makes me so upset and sad. She always looks so miserable.''

Lucy's carers also own Lily, another three-year-old, who plays with guests at the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket Resort, and Gigi, just 18 months, a more recent acquisition.

The veterinarian from Phuket's Department of Livestock Development, Dr Jirayu Niranwiroj, said today: ''I haven't been notified about Gigi's presence on Phuket. The owners of all elephants on Phuket have to let me know when a new elephant arrives.''

Gigi's owner, who only wishes to be known by her nickname Pui, said that Gigi arrived on Phuket with a leg injury that her husband ''has the medicine to treat her. She is not hurt too much.''

Passing tourist who see Lucy sometimes stop and buy bananas to feed to her.

Khun Pui said Lucy needed to be tethered with a chain because she was young, not yet trained, and therefore could get into mischief.

She rejected suggestions that the elephant was mistreated, saying that families of tourists often came from Kata and Karon to be entertained when Lucy took a bath behind the souvenir market.

Gigi is kept in a rubber plantation behind the Phuthai Souvenir Market in Chao Fa Road West, where Lucy is tethered in a concrete area out the front, under a thatch-roofed sala.

The elephants recently moved with the market from a site near Tiger Muay Thai, on Soi Taead, a road nearby that runs between ChaoFa West and Chao Fa East roads, south of Phuket City.

Khun Pui said that she would readily sell any of the elephants to the people who were concerned for their welfare - asking 1.2 million baht per elephant ''to return them to the forests.''

About 185 elephants entertain tourists on Phuket.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Tourist come here and believe the lies that elephants are revered here but what they don't know is that elephants are treated extremely badly.

Thank you for exposing just this one example. The price is very high and buy means buy, not donate to keep the money and elephant.

The elephant can not be returned to the jungle..... This Pui person must really think you are stupid to be saying that.

Trekking is bad enough but at least they get some exercise in between beatings and they are not killed like an elephant recently slaughtered at a temple and sold off in pieces as reported by one of the larger newspapers in Thailand (are we allowed to say the Nation here?) It was a male about 13 that came from Phuket.

I have some idea first hand what kind of beatings the elephants must get just to be able to perform tricks and dance in shows. Disgraceful treatment of the revered animal

Please follow up and see what the livestock officer does. I will forward your email to WFFT and Bless to sanctuaries in Thailand.

Posted by Nbotwin on January 20, 2011 12:33


There's a lot to ponder here, but one thing that deserves reflection by both Thais and tourists is the sight of Thailand's great national symbol standing, in chains, on a concrete slab in front of a trinket shop.

Whether it is being 'mistreated' is of course subject to debate, but if this is how a supposedly 'revered' animal must live out its days I don't have much hope for other creatures out there...

Posted by Lana on January 20, 2011 12:38


welcome to the land of smiles, i do not see that poor elephant smiling.
I always tell my friends and visitors to avoid these shops.

Posted by lord Jim on January 20, 2011 12:50


I would like to invite Khun Pui to chain up her ankle and stand all day under that tiny sala, just one day, and try to look cute for the tourists. Let's see then how she considers her treatment of Lucy.

Posted by Free Lucy on January 20, 2011 12:57


I pass Lucy regulary, when she is not with the short chain she is closed in a concrete box under a thatch-roofed sala. It is terible...please continue to tell your readers what will happen now... the case is open, what the department of livestock development will do? Let us know, thank you

Thank you

Posted by florence on January 20, 2011 22:39


Animals endure horrid conditions routinely in Thailand. Visitors should not encourage mistreatment of any animals for profit and I consider chaining an animal that should be walking many miles a day as cruel.

Posted by Horse Rescue on January 21, 2011 07:03


Generally, as I understand it, baby elephants are taken from their mothers and never have a proper family life. They are to be seen at many hotels and are paraded for tourists with no thought to their lack of exercise, the shade they need, and are thus, whatever this Pui says, treated cruelly.

You often see them standing and swaying which is a sure sign of depression. The trouble is as always the owners attitude is only to make money with no thought to the beast's comforts.

Posted by wellington on February 23, 2011 16:59

Editor Comment:

There are certainly good carers and not-so-good carers.


Passed by this place again today and see that they now have TWO baby elephants standing on that concrete patch. Shame, shame!

Posted by Lana on February 23, 2011 18:22


The hypocrisy of this country continus to astound me. There, at the foot of the road leading up to the Big Buddha, is the National symbol, (which I've always proposed be changed to a thousand baht note), tethered in the same way as Lucy and showing the same signs of distress. This country ...

Posted by tamsin on January 30, 2012 13:39


In nature elephants live in social groups and each have their place within the extended family. Baby elephants like Lucy never have a chance to be part of a group and gain their social skills, I do not joke elephants are very intelligent, then if like Lucy they are tied up or confined and eventually crack up mentally and attack. They are then deemed bad. Why is she only using a Nickname if Pui has nothing to hide. She takes us all as fools that's why. People like this do it because they know no one including the government will do any thing. Dr Jirayu Niranwiroj should at least pay a visit. Is it legal to tie up elephants for so long.

Posted by Adam on February 10, 2012 16:44


The endemic mistreatment of animals in thailand is well documented and a sufficient reason not to go there. Ever.

Posted by Anonymous on April 16, 2015 18:37

Editor Comment:

Most Thais love animals. Your information is poorly researched and your concerns are irrational.

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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