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Nikki Phuket Trumpets End to Use of Elephants at Beach Parties

Monday, March 30, 2015
Updating All Day, Every Day

WHEN a beach club in Phuket, Thailand, posted a photo on Facebook of what it believed was an ''amazing Sunday brunch,'' it never expected just how much attention it would end up attracting.

Original Report

PHUKET: Nikki Beach Phuket has declared it will no longer use elephants for entertainment at its Layan beach club.

The statement follows a heated controversy in which animal activists heavily criticised Nikki because a young elephant was photographed carrying carousing partygoers on rides across a boardwalk between swimming pools.

To elaborate on our last statement, we would like to make it clear that we do not, have not and will never own an elephant. The elephant in the photo is from a reputable elephant caretaker who has no affiliation with Nikki Beach. With the above said, we understand that this has upset many of our customers and animal advocates around the world, so effective immediately, we will stop granting the requests for elephants at Nikki Beach Phuket. The Nikki Beach family will never stand for the mistreatment of animals.

Elephants are a highly respected and regarded symbol of Thailand. As a global company, Nikki Beach respects every country's culture and traditions and as such, we fall into the normal behaviors in usage of elephants to represent their culture. We never intended to be disrespectful and/or offend anyone.''

Now that Nikki has said ''it's not our elephant,'' the controversy is likely to start other brand-names on Phuket considering whether the use of juvenile elephants to entertain young guests is wise.

The prospect is, though, that unwanted juvenile elephants are likely to be abused in far worse ways if activists decide to make the animals used in tourism their prime target. Abuses elsewhere in Thailand are far more real.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The statement "we will stop granting the requests for elephants at Nikki Beach Phuket" is a typical (word removed to prevent bigotry) approach that points the finger at others, implying that they were simply following requests by their lunk-head guests. Also, the statement "The Nikki Beach family will never stand for the mistreatment of animals'' is not true... not only did Nikki "stand for it", you went out and arranged for the mistreatment animals, then posted it on your Facebook page. The statement should be rephrased to state that "we won't abuse elephants anymore because the backlash gave us bad press".

Oh yeah, now when is Nikki going to do something about ruining the atmosphere at Sirinath National Park for hundreds of locals and visitors every day?

Posted by Ed Sanders on March 30, 2015 08:19

Editor Comment:

No need for bigotry, Ed. Please try to restrain yourself. It's a common corporate brand approach everywhere to blame others and protect your own ''good name'' at all costs. No surprises there. Highly likely that no Thai has sighted the statement.


The prospect is, though, that unwanted juvenile elephants are likely to be abused in far worse ways if activists decide to make the animals used in tourism their prime target. Abuses elsewhere in Thailand are far more real.


This is actually the most important point, as an elephant that doesn't feed itself in one way will be made to earn its living in other way.

"Bringing elephants back in wild and leaving them alone" call is so far detached from reality, absolutely unrealistic.

Posted by Sue on March 30, 2015 08:23

Editor Comment:

The editor is right? Goodness.


Why, why is Nikki Beach one of the only Beach clubs allowed to stay open. (moderated)

Posted by n phuket on March 30, 2015 09:30

Editor Comment:

Nikki is legal, n phuket. Simple as that.


I hope this controversy promotes the idea of a kinder version of animal tourism, where animals are kept in a more natural environment and the focus is more on caring for them and informing visitors, rather than entertaining. I believe some resorts in the North support elephant sanctuaries so if we could see something like that here in Phuket (or nearby Phang Nga) that would be wonderful. I'd love for the chance to bring my kids to a place where they learn about these wonderful creatures, rather than watch them perform tricks and be used as exotic selfie props. One can only dream! Since their habitat is largely destroyed, it's not realistic to expect most elephants to live wild, but surely we could help captive elephants live in dignity and safety. More of the Gibbon Rehab model rather than the monkey shows.

Posted by Lana on March 30, 2015 11:56


I'm an admin on Global March for Elephants and Rhinos and we participated in this campaign against Nikki Beach Phuket using abused elephants to entertain guests. I'm interested in the last paragraph in this story, which seems subjective on the part of the reporter: "The prospect is, though, that unwanted juvenile elephants are likely to be abused in far worse ways if activists decide to make the animals used in tourism their prime target. Abuses elsewhere in Thailand are far more real."

Can the reporter or editor please elaborate on that statement?

The rampant use and abuse of elephants, young and old, is not excused by claims of "tradition" in Thailand. There are well-respected sanctuaries in Thailand like BLES - Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary and Elephant Nature Park which take in abused elephants. The real problem seems to be the culture that needs to change, and for that to happen, the Thai government needs to do its job to stop the abduction of calves from the wild, the trafficking of calves from Myanmar, to ban practices like phajaan and tourism industries that offer elephant rides or any commercial interaction with elephants, and to secure a more humane, balanced future for Thailand's elephants.

That country is fortunate to share their land with elephants. Asian elephants are an endangered species under CITES and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Seriously, with so many of the world's Asian elephants residing in Thailand, WHY on earth is phajaan and their use and abuse still legal in Thailand? Isn't that the real question here?

Posted by Lori Sirianni on March 30, 2015 15:25

Editor Comment:

The real question is why the Nikki beach club incident is being sensationalised when real abuses occur where elephants are broken and trained. Elephant births are rare on Phuket. By focussing on the minor ''abuse'' at Nikki, animal activists achieve publicity where it's not needed. This fuss will have zero effect on the Thai people, and on elephant breakers and trainers in Thailand. The other real question is what happens to juvenile elephants if they no longer have a place in Thai tourism. If the campaign succeeds in stopping big brands from using juvenile elephants, those elephants may well have less pleasant futures. There is no guarantee that, in halting the Nikki ''abuse,'' the lot of this creature has been improved. Possibly, quite the opposite.


Nikki Beach can only be described as 'legal' in the sense that they obtained all the necessary building and business permits. How THEY were obtained has to be questionable! There isn't supposed to be any construction within 50 metres of the high tide line - and the first 20 metres is supposed to be kept in its natural state. That's roughly where their swimming pool is - and they've rows of chairs, umbrellas and decking in front of that!

Posted by agogohome on March 31, 2015 12:15

Editor Comment:

Give the Mayor of Cherng Talay a call, agogohome. Or call Nikki Beach Club. I am sure they will have an explanation.We heard the other day about an official who said: ''high tide is different in the mangroves.''


@Lori Sirianni Some valid comments but emotion needs to be tempered with a does of reality. You like to lead people to believe all baby elephants are being taken from the wild or Myanmar for use in tourism, when there are plenty born into captivity.

Not condoning their treatment or of them being separated from their Mothers, just painting a fairer, more accurate picture for those who don't have any knowledge.

Sanctuaries sound wonderful... but who funds them? As a private operation, the business model isn't very attractive.

Returning domesticated elephants to the Wild is a non-starter.

Banning elephants from tourism will likely see a whole black market of activities going on for the simple reason that domesticated elephants are owned. The owner buys them and thus wants (needs) to make money from them. A modern day evil which is sad, but true.

Nikki Beach has drawn a lot of attention to the issue, unwillingly. That's a positive, but people calling for their blood solves nothing.

Posted by Duncan on March 31, 2015 13:57


Phoning the Mayor of Cherng Talay would be as pointless as asking the Governor why immigration officers charge 300 baht for an address confirmation letter!

Posted by agogohome on March 31, 2015 14:34

Wednesday May 18, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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