Victory! IBM Ends Sponsorship of Cruel Elephant Polo Match

New York–Based Company Withdraws Support After PETA Exposé Reveals Vicious Behind-the-Scenes Beatings at Tournament

For Immediate Release:
June 27, 2018

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Armonk, N.Y.

In response to damning video footage released 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 IBM has informed PETA that it will no longer support the cruel competition, which touts itself as a charity event for elephants. The move comes after more than 193,000 PETA supporters urged IBM to cut ties with the tournament, and in thanks, PETA has sent the company delicious elephant-shaped vegan chocolates.

The footage, which was 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 resembling 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.

“IBM has joined more than a dozen other companies that have withdrawn support for and condemned such abusive spectacles,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Violence and intimidation are elephant polo prerequisites, which is why PETA and kind people everywhere want to see this cruel tournament banished 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 sessions 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 canceled or lost sponsors—and Guinness World Records has struck all mention of elephant polo records from its pages.

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

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