A two-year-old elephant that was forced to perform tricks to entertain tourists three times a day at a zoo in Thailand, has died after his back legs snapped. The animal had been trying to support himself by planting his back legs on dry ground, but they were so weak they couldn't support his weight.
Footage of the distressed animal, which showed him in what appears to be poor health, had gone viral back in April. After he was hospitalized, a vet found that he had also been suffering from a digestive tract infection for several months.
“He had an infection that resulted in constant diarrhea, which caused other health complications, including the fact that his body was not absorbing nutrients as it should, which made him very weak,” the vet told local newspapers.
The campaign group Moving Animals, which filmed the aforementioned viral video, named the elephant "Dumbo" and sent around a petition, which garnered 200,000+ signatures in a week, to get him released to an animal sanctuary. That amount of outrage was sufficient enough to get a welfare check on Dumbo from the local Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD). They found that he was underweight, and ordered the zoo to pull the elephant until that was no longer the case. The DLD added that aside from his weight, he was receiving adequate care at the zoo.
The breaks in the calf's legs reportedly occurred on April 13, and it took three days for officials to notice and take him to the hospital. A week later he died.
“This is a tragic and horrific end to Dumbo’s heartbreakingly-short life," said Moving Animals co-founder Amy Jones. “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.” she continued.
Phuket Zoo, where Dumbo had been performing, is reportedly free to "acquire" another baby elephant because they did not break any laws according to Phuket department officials.