Thailand: An Elephant Never Forgets.


Tragically, few watching a young elephant painting pictures with its trunk or dancing with dainty footsteps on a Bangkok street will realise the horrors these majestic animals suffer before surrendering to their handlers’ brusque commands. It is the very fact that an elephants never forgets that makes these animals so vulnerable to the sharp spikes driven into their heads or heated nails dug into the most sensitive parts of their huge bodies.

Beatings handed out in an ancient 6-day ritual called “Phajaan” crushes a young elephant’s spirit so that it accepts being paraded through the smoggy streets of Thailand’s most popular tourist hots-spots to put on degrading shows rather than face more pain.

The shameful story of Thailand’s elephants and they way they are broken is to be exposed in a shocking new television documentary. An Elephant Never Forgets sees presenter Joe Keogh visiting the Far East and talking to some of the 870,000 Britons who visit Thailand, revealing to them the horrors of Phajaan. This age-old ceremony originates among remote hill tribes and sees elephant calves bound and forced into tiny enclosures where the handlers, or mahouts, drive spikes into their heads while chanting a prayer which translates as “elephant, if you stop struggling then we won’t hurt you”.


Half the elephants do not survive. Many go crazy and have to be destroyed. Others become aggressive and 100 mahouts are killed by their animals every year. Documentary-makers Groundbreak Productions were invited to Thailand by an animal welfare charity to look at how tourist cash is supporting the practice of Phajaan.

During filming, the production crew met an award-winning animal rights activist called Lek who has been at the heart of raising awareness of the country’s tortured elephants as well as caring for them at a sanctuary.

The full film is due to be released in 2013 and will be shown on television stations around the globe, including the UK.

To see the trailer go to youtube/RHLE1x4FRHk








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