PHUKET: Nikki Beach Club Phuket has vowed to stop granting requests for elephants at its parties, following public outcry about photographs surfacing of a baby elephant being ridden by patrons at the club.
The pictures of the baby elephant being paraded around the club sparked a firestorm of negative reactions on various social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. A Facebook group called ‘Boycott Nikki Beach Hotel – Phuket’ was formed in response, and had garnered nearly 700 likes by this afternoon.
The pictures went viral even outside of Phuket, going so far as to be shared on the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) Facebook page, and prompting a story on onegreenplanet.org, a ‘lifestyle platform for the growing compassionate and eco-conscious generation’.
Nikki Beach, an internationally renown chain of clubs and resorts, responded quickly to the backlash with statements on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
They first posted a response on March 28 that read, “Elephants are a highly respected and regarded symbol of Thailand. As a global company, Nikki Beach respects every country’s culture and traditions and as such, we fall into the normal behaviors in usage of elephants to represent their culture. We never intended to be disrespectful and/or offend anyone.”
The company amended its initial statement last night to confirm that Nikki Beach would never stand for the mistreatment of animals, and that the club in Phuket would stop granting requests for elephants.
The statement read, “We would like to make it clear that we do not, have not and will never own an elephant. The elephant in the photo is from a reputable elephant caretaker who has no affiliation with Nikki Beach. With the above said, we understand that this has upset many of our customers and animal advocates around the world, so effective immediately, we will stop granting the requests for elephants at Nikki Beach Phuket. The Nikki Beach family will never stand for the mistreatment of animals.”
In response to Nikki Beach Club’s post, WFFT responded with a more positive message on its Facebook page this morning.
“Great news on a Monday morning: Nikki Beach Phuket will no longer exploit elephants at their parties! Thanks all for your support and messages, together we can!” the statement said.