February 16, 2017

Lasah ‘isn’t Abused.’ Is that really So?

Lasah ‘isn’t Abused.’ Is that really So?

Asian elephants are highly social animals that need plenty of freedom to roam and forage for food. Photo Credit: Perth Zoo

Lasah is fine, thank you very much. He isn’t lonely or sad or neglected or abused. Now if you could please stop bugging us about him, that would be much appreciated.

This is essentially the gist of an answer that the management of the Langkawi Elephant Adventures Park (LEA) has given in response to repeated allegations by the prominent animal rights group Friends of the Orangutans  (FOTO) that the 37-year-old pachyderm kept at the park for the amusement of visitors has been facing years of abuse and neglect.

Lasah, an elderly elephant, has been keep in chains and isolation at the Langkawi Elephant Adventures Park. Photo Credit: FOTO

FOTO has provided photographic evidence that indicates Lasah has been kept in chains and isolation most of the time. This, the group stresses, constitutes a form of animal cruelty. Lasah is denied any freedom of movement and nor is he able to socialize with other elephants. The group has been spearheading a publicity campaign to have Lasah be taken away from the amusement park and transferred to an elephant sanctuary in Sabah so he could live out the rest of his life in well-earned retirement.

In interviews with media, however, the park’s director Serene Lau Xiao Woon has refuted claims that Lasah has been either neglected by his keepers or abused by them. Lasah, who was acquired from his previous owners in 1998, was chained up sometimes, she said, only upon the recommendations of the park’s veterinarian for the pachyderm’s own benefit. “The elephant is usually tied for a short period of time to save him from further harm,” she said, referring to face wounds that, she said, Lasah suffered years ago before he had been brought to the park.

She went on to say Lasah was kept away from other elephants for his own good, too. “Males live in solitude if they are rejected by the alpha male,” the park director said. “This was the case with Lasah as he had daily conflicts with other male elephants.” Nor is the pachyderm overworked, as FOTO claims, the director insisted. He has only light duties at the park in entertaining visitors.

FOTO will have none of those rebuttals. The nonprofit continues to campaign undaunted on behalf of Lasah to secure the animal’s release. “Our investigation indicates that Lasah could have developed pressure wounds on his face and legs as a result of having to lie down on hard surface for prolonged periods. Moreover, we are wondering if Lasah is in fact chained on a daily basis after LEA is closed to the public?” stressed FOTO’s director Upreshpal Singh.

The animal rights activist has been joined by other leading conservationists in questioning the park director’s claims. “If the goal of chaining an elephant is to prevent it from lying down, that is counter-intuitive and a seriously flawed elephant management practice,” noted Carol Buckley, founder and president of Elephant Aid International. “Lack of sleep and the inability to get off his feet is stress inducing and can compromise his immune system, make him frustrated, aggressive and prone to physical and emotional deterioration,” she explained.

Lasah is chained up and kept alone at night. Photo Credit: FOTO

Nor does Singh buy the argument that Lasah is kept in isolation for his own good. “Some [elephant] bulls in captivity fail to interact in a healthy manner with other bulls,” he explained. “Fighting can be the result of frustration and fear. Human dominance undermines an elephant’s self esteem and can damage their ability to socialise with other elephants in a healthy manner.”

He added: “It is true adult males are less social than females, but in the wild they are seldom completely alone, except during musth, and have freedom to move and interact with other elephants.”

It’s a classic case of he said/she said. An animal rights activist insists Lasah is in very bad shape. A park director insists he is fine and well. Who are we to believe?

Here’s the thing: even if all of Ms. Lau’s claims were true, Lasah would still deserve to be freed from the park. By her own admission, Lasah does not fit in well with the other elephants there and so he needs to be kept in isolation, through special arrangements that are demonstrably detrimental to the animal’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Lau has admitted as much herself.

That being the case, it’s hard to see why the park insists on keeping Lasah, rather than letting the elephant retire at a sanctuary in Sabah, where he would surely have a much easier time. Perhaps, Ms. Lau would be willing to explain that as well.




9 Comments so far

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    You people are absolutely sick…I even e-mailed you about Lasah! He most definitely is ABUSED. If he isn’t abused, as you say, please treat your children the same way for the world to see and prove you don’t think chaining up living beings is abuse. You KNOW Lasah is being abused…

    1. LaPlazza856Author

      Yes, Tracy, Lasah is most definitely being abused at the “animal adventure” park where he is kept as a form of entertainment, along with other captive animals. Here’s hoping, however, that continued attention to his plight will finally convince his keepers to let the long-suffering elephant retire in peace at an elephant sanctuary at last.

      Clean Malaysia Team

    2. Please sign this petition to help put pressure on Lasah. There are several for him so please check if you’ve sign this one. It’s newer than the ones from Friends of the Orangutans. Thank you.

  2. Elaine Johnson

    I cannot disagree more strongly with Ms Lau that Lasah’s treatment is acceptable. Anyone with any compassion or intelligence can see the opposite, whether the chains are short-term or not. This treatment is a disgrace to all involved and if the elephant does not fit in then he needs to be rehomed. All power to Mr Singh and FOTO .

    1. Please sign this petition to help put pressure on Lasah. There are several for him so please check if you’ve sign this one. It’s newer than the ones from Friends of the Orangutans. Thank you.

  3. Karen Hall

    What absolute rubbish Ms Lau is spouting! If Lasah cannot be placed with the other elephants and doesn’t do much work, let him be released to sanctuary. At least then you won’t have to spend money feeding and housing him. That is what drives you people, money so everyone wins – less expenditure for you coupled with gratitude and respect for doing the right thing, freedom for Lasah and the knowledge that we have helped this poor creature for everyone else. Simple.

    1. Please sign this petition to help put pressure on Lasah. There are several for him so please check if you’ve sign this one. It’s newer than the ones from Friends of the Orangutans. Thank you.

  4. Pamela Menard

    Either Ms. Lau is completely delusional or she’s getting that extra paycheck (which seems to be the driving force, when it comes to zoo and circus animals) under the table to turn face.
    She definitely has no business being in that profession. As the director of the zoo, she knows d*mn well Lasah is not treated well. So the Veterinarian said, for Lasah’s own good, he needs to be chained on all four feet and stretched out so far, that he can’t even shift his weight if he needs to ? Sounds (and looks) like more harm than good. So Lasah is only chained up for a short period of time to keep him from further harm ? How long is a short period? He’s completely chained on all fours and it’s completely dark outside. Don’t try to tell me he won’t be standing there until morning.
    I’ve seen and read about the horrific torcher some elephants go through, being chained on all fours and pulled in awkward positions and left there for up to 6 months . They call it breaking, breaking the free spirit to gain total control. They are also made to lay down and lay still , the evil heartless handler props a stick against the elephants ear. If the elephant even twitches and the stick falls , a horrific beating follows.
    It is just unbelievable and so heartbreaking. I just cant stop thinking that Lasah’s getting some form of that inhumane treatment. As far as his being kept from the other elephants due to conflict. Like people, if you don’t get along with a certain crowd, find another crowd.
    Lasah’s ready for his new crowd. Leaving him all alone hurts him more
    BLESS his heart, Let Him Go

    1. Please sign this petition to help put pressure on Lasah. There are several for him so please check if you’ve sign this one. It’s newer than the ones from Friends of the Orangutans. Thank you.

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