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Former All Black stunned by animal abuse at annual event

By RugbyPass

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Former All Blacks prop Steve McDowall has said he was unaware of any animal abuse before competing in the annual King’s Cup elephant polo tournament in Thailand.

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PETA Asia shared video of the elephants being subjected to beatings with bullhooks on social media.

“We weren’t aware of the abuse and as everyone had said, they were totally against the abuse,” McDowall told NZME.

“But that’s an individual that has gone out and done that. That’s not about the people in the tournament.

“Everyone at that tournament would be totally against that individual abusing that elephant and rightly so should be fired from it and that’s what they’ve done.”

McDowall was competing alongside former All Blacks Olo Brown, Robin Brooke and Charles Reichelmann.

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The annual tournament’s website states that it aims to “create real and lasting change for elephants in need”.

“The welfare of the elephants participating in the polo tournament is paramount, with strict rules in place to ensure that the pachyderms are well cared for at all times.”

The trainer responsible for the abuse at the event was fired, but PETA Asia vice-president said in a statement that the firing is not enough.

“They don’t need to fire anyone, they need to cancel the event,” Baker said.

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“It is fraudulent to pretend that we are dealing with a few bad apples here when all the handlers wield bullhooks…used to hook, beat, and jab elephants in order to keep them obedient and subservient.”

McDowall told NZME that his team would still consider future involvement in the tournament.

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