Prince William and an elephant at the Wild Elephant Valley. Picture from the British Embassy.
Prince William spent his last day in China at the Wild Elephant Valley in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, a visit that was meant to shine some light onto China’s role in fighting the ivory trade and bring further attention to the conservation of the creature. In an unfortunate twist, and apparently unbeknownst to the Duke of Cambridge, elephants were being forced to perform tricks for tourists just down the road at the very same sanctuary, according to news reports.
Sky News spent an hour at the show in which we watched tourists sitting on elephants trunks, and riding on them. The animals, some wearing giant spectacles, sat down and balanced on tiny stools. Others kicked around footballs.
The show lasts an hour, happens twice a day and is watched by hundreds of Chinese tourists.
Sky News asked the Prince if he was aware the elephant entertainment was taking place down the road. He turned around but didn’t respond.
— Mark Stone (@Stone_SkyNews) March 4, 2015
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 4, 2015
Animal activists have on previous occasions lodged complaints over Chinese zoos forcing elephants into performing unnatural stunts which they say cause “physical and mental harm” to the animals.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development ordered to end all types of animal performances in 2010 and in 2013, but the ban has been decidedly flouted ever since.