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Baby Elephant Known As 'Dumbo' Who Was Forced To Dance For Crowds Has Died

One thing I'll never, ever understand is the impulse to exploit and hurt innocent animals. You have to have a deep, dark pit where your heart is supposed to be if you can bring yourself to do something like that — and do it repeatedly, and come out in droves to watch the poor animal suffer.

Dumbo was one of those animals.

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The baby elephant made headlines earlier in 2019 when troubling footage of an emaciated, almost skeletal Dumbo being forced to dance for crowds at a zoo in Thailand. Animal welfare charity Moving Animals shared that footage and pushed for Dumbo's release.

Moving Animals even had a plan, to rescue poor Dumbo and put him in a nearby sanctuary.

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Alongside the release of the footage, the group started up a petition, which garnered more than 200,000 signatures. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, and Dumbo had to continue performing.

When Thai officials heard about Dumbo's situation, they did investigate.

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According to Moving Animals, Phuket's chief of Livestock Development later told The Phuket News that although Dumbo was "thin," he would still be left in the care of the zoo, saying "the baby elephant is fine...the baby elephant is working."

However, the authorities did eventually relent.

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After sufficient international outcry, DLD officials informed the zoo that they needed to stop forcing Dumbo to perform — but that that would only be temporary, and Dumbo would be able to return to performing once he'd gained some weight and recovered his health.

Sadly, it was all too little, too late.

The damage had been done, and Dumbo died after a terrible accident exposed just how tragically neglected he had been.

As one of the vets who treated the elephant said, "It was the worst."

As The Phuket News reported, both of Dumbo's back legs broke when he became stuck in some mud and tried to free himself. "The bone was too thin and too brittle, and the stress on it caused it to break," she said. Ultimately, a digestive tract infection did Dumbo in.

After learning of Dumbo's passing, Moving Animals released a statement.

"This is a tragic and horrific end to Dumbo's heartbreakingly-short life," said Moving Animals co-founder Amy Jones. "His skeletal body clearly suggested that he was unwell and could be suffering from malnourishment and exhaustion. And yet the zoo did nothing until receiving international criticism. Under their care, this baby elephant broke both of his back legs, and the zoo did not even realize for three days. I can't bring myself to imagine Dumbo's suffering during this time."

The zoo's management denied that Dumbo had been mistreated.

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"Nobody wants to lose something they love," the zoo's manager, Mr Pichai, told The Phuket News. "We did the best we could do to protect him."

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