A young boy from Essex, England bravely intervened to prevent a hotel in Thailand from cruelly abusing and using baby elephants for the amusement of their guests.

While on holiday with his family in Phuket, six-year-old Oakley Kingston witnessed a member of the Katathani hotel’s staff brutally beat a baby elephant for not performing as requested at a wedding. Upon seeing the tormented elephant dressed as a bride for the entertainment of the hotel’s British guests, Oakley immediately asserted, “That’s not right.”

“They wanted the elephant to pose with the bride and groom, but the baby elephant just wasn’t doing it,” Oakley’s mom Rebecca told The Dunmow Broadcast. “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 started protesting and saying you shouldn’t be doing that,” Rebecca added. “We stood there with our thumbs down.”

Once Oakley and his family arrived back home, Rebecca told their tour operator, Kuoni Travel, about the abuse, and they took action. Kuoni Travel threatened to remove the hotel from their tours unless management stopped using baby elephants to entertain guests.

“We take animal welfare seriously with clear guidelines,” Rachel O’Reilly, head of communications at Kuoni Travel, said. “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.”

elephant being ridden