Children are the future and if they all act like six-year-old Oakley Kingston, the world will be a better place.
Oakley from Essex, England, was on vacation with his twin sister and parents in Thailand. The family visited an elephant sanctuary during their trip and learned the proper way to care and treat elephants. However, when they returned to their hotel they witnessed a disturbing sight.
Elephants are not props, but at Katathani Resort, a luxury beachfront hotel, a staff member was forcing some to pose in wedding photos. Rebbecca, Oakley’s mom, told Dunmow Broadcast, “We were all geared up with the right way to treat elephants when we saw a baby elephant dressed up as a bride and Oakley said, ‘That’s not right’.”
She went on to say, “They wanted the elephant to pose with the bride and groom but the baby elephant just wasn’t doing it. A guy was beating it with a stick to get it into the right position. People were putting their children on the elephant for a photo. The elephant was distressed. You can tell, they bark when they are upset.”
Oakley could not just stand there and do nothing so he continued to protest along with his family. “Oakley starting protesting and saying you shouldn’t be doing that. We stood there with our thumbs down and a little boy on the elephant said: ‘Daddy can you get me off’ – we didn’t realize they were British.”
Rebbecca supported her son and joined in to say that was no way to treat an innocent elephant. “When I said treating the animal like that was disgusting I was told to look away and some British guests told me to ‘take my animal rights elsewhere’.”
That was the not the end of the family’s protest. Rebbecca, co-owner of Flitch Travel agency in Essex, told Oakley that she would continue to fight for the elephants on his behalf. Once they returned home she reached out to the international tour company, Kuoni Travel, to voice her concerns.
Rachel O’Reilly, head of communications at Kuoni Travel, said, “We take animal welfare seriously with clear guidelines. We work closely with our management company in Thailand to ensure animal welfare is respected. We do our very best to ensure attractions like this are not part of the hotel experience. If guests or travel agents see a practice that doesn’t look right, we encourage people to report it to us so we can investigate and take action.”
The hotel was since removed elephant attractions from their website. Mike Busby heard Oakley’s story and had to share on his personal page. He wrote, “Awesome Dude of The Day: 6 year old Oakley Kingston, from Takeley, Essex. His protest at a baby elephant being beaten at a hotel in Thailand, has stopped the venue using elephants to entertain guests.”
Oakley is proof that one person can make a difference. If you see something, say something.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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