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A young elephant greets children during a session at Phuket's Dino Park

Activists Target Dino Park Elephant

Friday, April 3, 2015
PHUKET: Juvenile elephants that have traditionally greeted guests at Phuket's Dino Park no longer have a job because of pressure from social media campaigners.

Nikki Beach Club at Layan on Phuket banned use of elephants this week after posters on Facebook and Twitter complained about photos showing alcohol-drinking revellers riding and mingling with animals at pool parties.

As social media campaigns intensify, more elephants are expected to be thrown out of work on Phuket.

Activists appear to have chosen the most obvious targets even though the young elephants used in tourism on Phuket are probably among the best cared-for elephants in Thailand.

Young elephants have been greeting guests outside the Dino Park restaurant in Karon for about 15 years.

The latest animal employed to greet children there between 8pm and 10pm, a female named Nadia, has not worked for two weeks on the orders of the management of the Marina Phuket Resort, which owns the restaurant.

The elephant's owner, Tip Yeelum, said today that he had no idea what the future of the elephant might be without the regular two-hour-a-day session that provides food and money for the creature's upkeep.

According to the petition at, where more than 38,000 people have added their signatures, Nadia ''leads a life of solitude and loneliness, forced to perform unnatural behaviors for visitor entertainment.''*

However, Phuket livestock officials who visited Nadia yesterday at the resort said today she was in perfect health and appeared to be of normal disposition.

The resort is continuing to provide accommodation space for Nadia but management cancelled the Dino Park work because of the growing social media pressure.

Officers from nearby Karon Police Station have also been to check on the welfare of Nadia.

At least two other resorts on Phuket employ young elephants to entertain guests.

According to official livestock records, 25 of the 216 elephants on Phuket are aged five years or younger.

Nadia's owner Khun Tip and his wife come from Thailand's most renowned elephant province, Surin, and have 26 elephants which they lease to mahouts at trekking camps all over the holiday island.

''The only work that Nadia does is the two hours a day outside Dino Park,'' Khun Tip said. ''We carefully limit her time there to two hours.''

Many animal lovers are now complaining about the treatment of elephants in Thailand after learning of the cruelty involved in the breaking and training of young animals, known as ''Phajaan.''

Khun Tip said Nadia was three years old and had not been broken in.

The petition as of 6.30pm tonight had 38,827 supporters. It reads:

Please release Nadia the baby elephant to a sanctuary immediately and let her live the life she deserves!

''Nadia, the baby elephant, is the Marina Phuket Resort's 'mascot', and leads a life of solitude and loneliness, forced to perform unnatural behaviors for visitor entertainment. When I saw Nadia, my heart sank. She was tied to a pole outside the hotel's restaurant, being made to take photos with passing tourists late at night. Furthermore, their own website boasts their 'elephant rides,' of which is common knowledge to be of detriment to the elephant spine, and when not being used for human 'enjoyment,' she is rumored to be kept in a small enclosure, starved of any other elephant interaction. Being a baby, she would have been taken from her mother so young, and likely to have been broken in by a process of 'Phajaan,' or cruel acts to break her spirit to obey. There is a sanctuary willing to accept Nadia, to allow her the ability to live the life she deserves ... Free, surrounded by other elephants, and in the care of those who will love and cherish her. Please, please, please, urge Marina Phuket Resort Hotel to release Nadia immediately. Their hotel is set among breathtaking scenery, overlooking the beautiful Karon beach, and therefore do not need to have Nadia to attract tourists. Please sign and share today!''

The petition is addressed to the Marina Phuket Resort and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

*A version of the petition sent to Phuketwan appeared to give an Australian address for the person who started the petition but we now understand it was initiated in the US.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Ed and Herbert gave excellent , thorough argumentation on the case at Nikki article.

True, activist "do not think well" when they call for this cause, they fail to take into equation all calculte consequences, take a wider look - what is major and what is minor , see what the alternatives are , and so on.

Posted by Sue on April 3, 2015 18:53


Good on Mr. Hemmant... it is time to do away with this ridiculous exploitation of such beautiful and social animals. It just isn't necessary. Also, I have no confidence when local officials visit the elephants and come back with reports of "everything is good". Additionally, "The elephant's owner, Tip Yeelum, said today that he had no idea what the future of the elephant might be without the regular two-hour-a-day session that provides food and money for the creature's upkeep". Well, the sanctuary will provide a much happier and brighter future for Nadia (and any other working elephant) than K. Yeelum will ever provide.

Posted by Ed Sanders on April 3, 2015 19:12

Editor Comment:

The problem is, Ed, that tourists spot the obvious elephants but not the ones on Phuket that are badly treated. This is a form of mass hysteria, without proper research. You too have that wonderful power of knowing all these things without experience or seeing with your own eyes. Is your friend's yard really big enough to hold all 216 of Phuket's elephants?


Maybe they will take up the cause on behalf of the two baby elephants chained up all day for tourists photos on the road up to Big Buddha next.

Posted by mike on April 3, 2015 21:56

Editor Comment:

One would have thought the most needy cases should come first.


I warned of this now we have out of work elephants due to a knee jerk reaction for a isolated incident theres nothing sader than a out of work elephant shove them off to the reservation like the american indians so they will be happy is your wonderful solution i hope you all feel warm and fuzzy its about as sad as a slow greyhound and do you do gooders know what happens to slow greyhounds
go save a gibbon where you may do some possible good.

Posted by slickmelb on April 3, 2015 22:47


OK... you are correct Ed, I did not research the details of the sanctuary that Mr. Hemmant referred to. I just made the assumption that anyone as concerned for the elephant's welfare as Mr. Hemmant appeared to be, would already know of a much better place "... a sanctuary willing to accept Nadia, to allow her the ability to live the life she deserves ... Free, surrounded by other elephants, and in the care of those who will love and cherish her." It would seem that perhaps it might be a good idea for Phuketwan to look into any known elephant sanctuaries that are willing to accept these beautiful animals. With all the recent concerns over this, I would think many people would be interested in getting these mistreated animals off the stage and into a nice sanctuary where people could see them in their own habitat... not on a stage doing corny head shakes and standing on one leg, or toting drunken bogans around the disco beach resort.

Posted by Ed Sanders on April 4, 2015 02:20

Editor Comment:

It's really odd how easily people accept the word of someone they think believes in the same cause they do. Yet the information is thin and selective.


The sad fact is that elephants are hugely expensive to keep. They used to earn a living hauling logs but now that business has dried up, carrying tourists around is what they do.

Sanctuaries cannot house every single elephant in thailand - it would be impossible financially. So the reality is work in the tourist industry or be destroyed.

The actions of mass hysteria are not productive as the Ed quite rightly says

We may not like to see lovely elephants carrying tourists around, or greeting them at a restaurant, but I would rather see that than elephant corpses littered around the island.

Posted by Discover Thainess on April 4, 2015 08:30

Editor Comment:

Those of us who have seen elephants and their mahouts begging in the streets of Bangkok understand that the answer does not lie in mindless denunciation but in generating a systematic reappraisal of the place of the elephant in Thai culture.


The be all and end all is - No one should be profiting from animals.

Look at Phuket Zoo and look at the Trip Advisor reviews.

Are these animals "of normal disposition"?

Proper run sanctuary's and proper funded organisations can care for these animals.

The people who flaunt them are the same as the touts in Patong with the animals.

Times are changing and people need to change along with it, or be left behind.

Posted by Tbs on April 4, 2015 10:33


Ed, could not agree more with your comment - we can add this to the list of things that need to be addressed in Thailand. I feel very sorry for the Ele's that are mistreated - a solution is needed

Posted by Discover Thainess on April 4, 2015 10:47


I'm assuming that all the good-intentioned folk out there are willing to chip in a buy land for a sanctuary and pay for the operating costs.

If not, a does of reality is needed. More elephants are heading towards a life of begging on the streets with this hysteria. But then most of these people won't see that, and therefore won't acknowledge it. They'll just sleep better because one resort has stopped employing an elephant and caring for an elephant. Solution... not at all. A step backwards.

A realistic and achievable plan is needed. All constructive ideas welcome.

Posted by Duncan on April 4, 2015 13:00


I presume Jamie from Brisbane is in the process of selling her house etc to finance her ideals of a sanctuary, when visiting Thailand which my Wifehave done 11 times say TIT (this is Thailand) and sort your own backyard first.

Posted by Noel on April 5, 2015 03:42



Jamie from Brisbane maybe resides on Seaworld Drive next to the SeaWorld, will do nothing, absolute zero, in respect of dolphins there, but utulize all her free time to put efforts into dolphinarium issues abroad.

Freud called it neurosis.

Posted by Sue on April 5, 2015 04:35


There is a well known saying about being given a "white elephant". Basically all white elephants are owned by the king and are not allowed to work. Being given a white elephant by the King meant you had to feed it and care for it but could not earn any money from it as it was not allowed to work. Though the gift was perceived as an honour from the King, actually it was a huge burden on the receiver. Any elephant who does not work to provide income for its owner will become a burden and will be treated as such. All we need to do is ensure they are trained and treated humanely and all should be fine. Many animals work for a living without being mistreated and I see no reason why elephants could not be included in that category

Posted by chill on April 5, 2015 06:07


In true AR style hysteria amongst a small loud minority who could not care less what happens to these elephants. Not a single thought how these elephants are to live and who is to pay and care for them. Typical, selfish ethnocentric idiocy. All talk but zero action, to actually help the elephants in need. But lets ruin the ones who are actually cared for properly. Shame on the activists and all their unthinking supporters.

Posted by Ewa Narkiewicz on April 6, 2015 10:23


(moderated) I can see via the petition that the activist in question location is USA for starters ? Not Brisbane?

Posted by Anonymous on April 6, 2015 18:54

Editor Comment:

It appears so, anonymous.



Posted by Anonymous on April 6, 2015 20:50

Editor Comment:

Before you can offer subjective criticism on this site about any topic, you actually have to have a persona, anonymous. Your opinion has zero value without one. Even with some kind of moniker, unless your criticism is well-argued and substantiated by the information you provide, you are likely to be moderated.


I've been going to Karon every year since 2008. Not withstanding the fact that all animals should be treated with respect, I find your petition biased and misleading. Your comments are speculative and you have no proof whatsoever as to what life Nadia leads for the other "22 hours of the day". How about you do some research rather than shoot your ill advised opinion out to the world??? I've kept a keen interest in Nadia for some time, keeping a very sharp eye on her wellbeing. You are just an idiot with no clue - looking for a reason to spew your twisted opinion to anyone with enough to patience go listen. Do your homework, then if you believe the facts warrant action, start your petition.

Posted by Enzo on May 5, 2015 20:00

Saturday April 13, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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