Animal rights activists have captured footage which shows elephants forced to participate in Thailand’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament being beaten.
An undercover video obtained by animal rights charity PETA shows the animals being repeatedly struck and gouged with bullhooks - sharp steel-tipped rods resembling fireplace pokers - and their ears being violently yanked.
One elephant appears to bleed after being hit on the head around 15 times by a mahout.
According to PETA: "The event took place last weekend next to Thailand’s Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, owned by the Minor Hotel Group.
"After watching PETA's footage, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort released a statement claiming they fired the offending mahouts.
"Yet, investigators continued to document abuse, which we shared live on social media."
Elephants were beaten by mahouts
PETA adds: "The only way to make elephants tolerate having humans riding around on their backs for polo games or any other reason is to 'break' them.
"They're chained and beaten with bullhooks or other weapons and constantly threatened with violence to keep them afraid and submissive."