Kim Kardashian looks rapt as she lovingly cuddles the trunk of this magnificent elephant.
But if she knew the full reality of life there she may be less keen to publicise the park in Indonesia.
The star, 38, who visited with rapper husband Kanye West , 41, posted photos of their visit to her 136 million Instagram followers.
It seems she was unaware how the elephants at Bali’s Mason Elephant Park and Lodge are kept in line by keepers using hooked pick-axe style spurs, known as ganchos.
Photos at its entrance show off its past celebrity visitors, including comedian Bill Bailey, Man Utd stars David de Gea and Chris Smalling as well as Hollywood names Jessica Biel and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Signs in the park insist ganchos are only used in emergencies but our investigators saw staff, known as mahouts, regularly tapping the beasts to make them go where they wanted.
According to a spokeswoman for PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: “All over the world, tourist traps offer the chance to climb on to an elephant’s back without divulging to the visitors what these animals endure in order to force them to allow this. Keeping elephants in captivity is cruel.
“They are routinely chained up for hours at a time while eating and sleeping and forced to perform tasks for the enjoyment of tourists.
“Riding elephants or visiting camps that force elephants to come into contact with humans directly supports this abuse.”
A British tourist, who yesterday visited the park in Bali at the same time as British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, said: “They’re treated like slaves for holidaymakers enjoyment.”
Yesterday a staff member said: “Kim was a publicity boost. There will be many more guests because of her. It was the second time she has been.”
Another worker claimed: “Staff are told the gancho should be hidden when not in use. Staff keep it under their shirts or their arms to hide them.”
Visitors pay up to £70 to enter the park, opened in 1997, which employs about 200 locals and has seven male and 24 Sumatran elephants saved from government camps.
One reviewer wrote on TripAdvisor website: “It was quite depressing to see. The elephants were chained across the park and did not have much space to walk around.
“The handlers were also using hooks to ensure the elephants did not act out during elephant rides.
“We opted not to take a ride because we saw the handlers using the hooks to encourage the elephants to submerge themselves in a pool.
“They also said that the elephants were chained because it was against the law to have them roaming freely.
“Either way it was sad to see a lot of elephants on short chains only being able to walk in a circle.”
Another user from Croydon, South London, added: “Please remove the chains! We booked to stay two nights and instantly regretted it within the first few hours! The elephants don’t have any choice in what they do.
“During the day when they don’t have their rider with them they are then chained up meters away from one another in a concrete circle connected to a chain.”
Owner Nigel Mason defended his park’s practices, which includes using the animals by selling T-shirts with prints “painted” by them.
He told the Sunday People each mahout has a gancho to control the elephant in case of an emergency – such as caused by a dog barking or a motorbike backfiring – to make sure no one gets hurt.
He said: “Elephants are very nervous and get scared quite easily by any loud noise.
When the gancho is used it would usually be a little tap on the back of the ear, but most of the controlling of an elephant is done by the mahout’s voice and by his feet.
“Once elephants are trained, and we use only very gentle methods, which is approved by animal welfare and I might add we are approved 100 per cent by animal welfare, who independently audit us every year.
“We’re very strict about any cruelty to the animals. They’re not allowed to be hit – only in an absolute dangerous situation will the mahout use the gancho for anything.
“We are very careful not to use any brutality here because we have a lot of VIPs.”
Speaking about the elephants being chained up, he said: “If we didn’t have them tethered when they were eating they’d walk around and steal each others food and fight.
“They’re only tethered for a maximum of four or five hours a day, when they sleep and when they eat.
“Rides don’t hurt the animals. That’s a myth invented by animal activists to get people emotionally upset because they think everything should be wild in the jungle and free.
“We’re not here to brutalise or exploit the animals, which is being said by these animal activists. It’s just not true.”
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