Victory! Ecolab Ends Sponsorship of Cruel Elephant Polo Match

Minnesota-Based Company Withdraws Support After PETA Exposé Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Abuse at Tournament

For Immediate Release:
March 29, 2018

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

St. Paul, Minn.

In response to disturbing video footage released last month by PETA Asia showing handlers repeatedly beating elephants for Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort’s 2018 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Thailand, event sponsor Ecolab has informed PETA that it will no longer support the cruel competition, which touts itself as a charity event for elephants. In thanks, PETA has sent Ecolab delicious elephant-shaped vegan chocolates.

The footage, shot from nearby hotel and apartment windows, shows handlers in a holding area next to the polo grounds repeatedly beating and jabbing elephants’ heads with bullhooks—weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end—which they also used to yank the animals by their extremely sensitive ears. Even after this video was released—and the Minor Hotel Group, which organizes the tournament, responded by attempting to write off the incidents as anomalies—PETA continued to document par-for-the-course cruelty at the event, including more beatings and that an elephant was left chained in floodwater all day.

“By withdrawing its sponsorship, Ecolab has set a positive example for companies that still support such abusive spectacles to follow,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Violence and intimidation are elephant polo prerequisites, which is why PETA is calling on the organizers to relegate this cruel tournament to the history books.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that elephants used for polo tournaments, rides, or any other type of entertainment endure violent training to force them into submission, during which they’re regularly beaten. Between matches, they’re often shackled so tightly that they can barely take a single step. Because of this abuse, numerous tournaments have been cancelled or lost sponsors—and Guinness World Records has struck all mention of elephant polo records from its pages.

Ecolab joins several other companies—including Angus Energy, the Campari Group, Vespa, JDE, Johnnie Walker, and Sunraysia—that have ended or suspended their sponsorships of the tournament following PETA Asia’s investigation.

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