Chitwan Festival loses sponsors after animal cruelty videos go public


KATHMANDU: After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) provided new video footage of a handler relentlessly beating an elephant with a stick 23 times within 30 minutes at the most recent Chitwan Elephant Festival, one of the top travel agencies in India has confirmed that it is ending its support to the festival.

Veena World joins over a dozen companies in cutting ties with the Chitwan Elephant Festival after hearing from PETA and its affiliates, reads a statement released by PETA Asia. Radisson and Hyatt pulled their support during last year’s event.

“PETA’s videos have repeatedly exposed vicious, violent attacks against elephants forced to participate in polo and football games,” said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker. “Someone in the Nepali government didn’t get the memo on ethics and cruelty — it’s time that authorities put a stop to the shameful Chitwan Elephant Festival.”

The videos show handlers repeatedly hitting and jabbing elephants on their heads and sensitive ears with bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end), sticks, and makeshift wooden knives in order to force them to race, give rides, and “play” football and polo.

One elephant was beaten for nearly a minute, many others suffered deep, bloody wounds around their heads and ears. When not being forced to perform during the festival, the elephants are used for rides by tourists visiting Chitwan.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” The largest animal rights organisation in the world focuses its attention on four areas in which large number of animals suffer the most — in laboratories, in the food industry, the clothing trade, and the entertainment industry.

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