An elephant ride for a Chinese family in Thailand turned into a nightmarish event when the animal they were riding killed its owner then ran off to the jungle with the tourists still mounted on its back.
The incident occurred when the elephant “ran amok” at a popular riding spot in the Mae Wang district of Chiang Mai on Wednesday morning, the Bangkok Post reports.
The mahout was gored to death while attempting to calm the animal down. The elephant then took off for a nearby forest with a family of three Chinese tourists, including two parents and a child, still on its back.
The family was rescued later, unharmed but naturally traumatized after whole ordeal.
The Karen mahout was identified as 40-year-old Surachai Daengphumpa. He was “not familiar with the elephant,” Colonel Thawatchai Thepboon, police commander of Mae Wang district, told AFP.
Animal rights groups have long protested against the conditions of such elephant camps, saying that the constant riding is cruel and stressful to the creatures.
“Elephants work every day, of every month, basically 365 days per year,” Edwin Wiek, a campaigner from Wildlife Friends of Thailand, said in the AFP report. “If you had to do the same, you would get stressed. It is the same for elephants. At some point they become crazy and we can’t control them.”
Indeed, this is not the first case of its kind. In June, an elephant suddenly gored a man to death as he was talking to its mahout at a beachside restaurant in Rangon, Thailand.
[Image via Wikimedia]