People love to party and be seen at Phuket’s glamorous Nikki Beach Club, where the beautiful people like to drink, dance, and experience luxury and decadence of “The Sexiest Place on Earth.” The success of the Nikki Beach brand has largely been attributed to the fact that it is a family-run business with a seemingly philanthropic philosophy of a “celebration of life.” That was until yesterday, when everyone started tweeting about the elephant in the room.
In the past 24 hours, people have been expressing their outrage about a baby elephant mascot featured in the beach club’s event gallery. Various tweets from concerned animal lovers, including notable wildlife conservationist Edwin Wiek, have expressed outrage over pictures of the adorable creature “serving” champagne, giving rides to movie stars and bikini models, “dancing” with inebriated party-goers, spraying swimming pool water at punters, and even being a prop in a bizarre marriage proposal. In response to the uproar, Nikki Beach Phuket began to remove the incriminating pictures of the poor baby elephant and her wild party animal friends.
What no one seems to realize is that this baby elephant’s idea of a party is very different from the one she is forced to attend every day at the Phuket beach club.
She would be much happier hanging out with her own tribe; her wild elephant family and friends in a real jungle. She would rather not have her delicate spine carrying humans even if they are glamorous, rich and famous. People need to understand that she feels as much as they do. That she misses her family and longs to live out the rest of her life with them. She may seem acquiescent and happy, but how many party-goers realize that for this to happen, she had to be “broken in” – body, mind and spirit – by her human kidnappers. She may appear to love her mahout, but could this be a direct result of the “Stockholm Syndrome,” where the captor is perceived as a saviour.
And that in order to perform all the cool Nikki Beach tricks she would have been trained using hunger or pain as motivation, just so customers can experience the ultimate in service.
Nikki Beach Phuket was started by the Penrod family in partnership with the Singapore-based, Castlewood Group. It is a profitable business run by affluent, educated people. In their websites, they claim corporate social responsibility by being involved with various charities such as the Soi Dog foundation.
Did someone forget about the rights of this wild baby elephant?
Nikki Beach, by deleting your Facebook pictures, you cannot hide the crime of enslaving a baby elephant to promote your decadent party lifestyle brand. Nor can you plead ignorance of the fact that you have sent out a message to a generation of young affluent people that using a wild animal for human pleasure is acceptable.
As a internationally recognized brand you should know better. So, be the great brand you say you are and take responsibility for your cruel mistake. By doing the right thing, and properly rehabilitating the elephant, you may even turn this into a positive PR story.
And we may even forgive you.