Takeley boy, 6, helps put a stop to animal cruelty
PUBLISHED: 11:41 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:42 12 December 2019
A six-year-old boy's protest at a baby elephant being beaten at a hotel in Thailand, has stopped the venue using elephants to entertain guests.
Oakley Kingston, from Takeley, was on holiday in Phuket with his twin sister Daisy-Mai and parents, Rebbeca and David.
The family had visited an ethical elephant sanctuary, and learned about the proper treatment of elephants, when back at the Katathani hotel, they were shocked to see an elephant used for a wedding - with British guests.
Mum Rebbeca said: "We were all geared up with the right way to treat elephants when we saw a baby elephant dressed up as a bride and Oakley said: "That's not right.
"The elephant came down the stairs and it broke every step. Someone said the same thing had happened the day before, they had only just fixed the steps.
"They wanted the elephant to pose with the bride and groom but the baby elephant just wasn't doing it. A guy was beating it with a stick to get it into the right position. People were putting their children on the elephant for a photo. The elephant was distressed. You can tell, they bark when they are upset.
"Oakley starting protesting and saying you shouldn't be doing that. We stood there with our thumbs down and a little boy on the elephant said: 'Daddy can you get me off' - we didn't realise they were British."
"When I said treating the animal like that was disgusting I was told to look away and some British guests told me to 'take my animal rights elsewhere'."
Back home, Rebbeca, owner of Flitch Travel in Dunmow, told Oakley she would escalate his protest.
She contacted the international tour opera Kuoni who told the hotel they would stop bookings unless the use of baby elephants was stopped. Now Elephants are no longer advertised on the hotel's website.
Rachel O'Reilly, head of communications at Kuoni Travel, said: "We take animal welfare seriously with clear guidelines. We work closely with our management company in Thailand to ensure animal welfare is respected. We do our very best to ensure attractions like this are not part of the hotel experience. If guests or travel agents see a practice that doesn't look right, we encourage people to report it to us so we can investigate and take action."