Shame on PETA, and in particular its Asia vice president, Jason Baker. You may have travelled to Asia over the past 20 years but I have made regular visits to Thailand for the last 60 years and repeatedly witnessed Bill Heinecke put his money where his mouth is and lead his Minor International team in doing something positive about the care of elephants.
Meanwhile PETA has campaigned but offered little or no solution.
Bill has hired some of the most acclaimed Asian elephant experts, and listened to their advice. Minor International has not only raised millions of baht for the care of Thai elephants, but has also rescued a myriad of elephants from the streets of Bangkok and provided employment for their mahouts, their families and education for their children. He also has helped other elephant-welfare organisations and programmes to ensure that the creatures can live peacefully with their human neighbours in Thailand.
Beyond Thailand, Minor has also have helped save the last elephant corridor in the Cambodian Cardamom Mountains and is very active in the preservation of African elephants.
Mr Baker, you are correct when you say that domestic elephants need and love daily activity, and also enjoy their interactions with humans. Much to your credit you have improved the life of captive elephants in Alaska and in China, but domestic elephants in Thailand have been born and raised in captivity for thousands of years.
In an ideal world all animals would be free to roam in the wild. But this is not an ideal world. Domesticated animals now rely on humans to care for and feed them. Bill Heinecke and his organisations have done just that. Has PETA cared for and fed domesticated Thai elephants? No, you only target something that helped literally hundreds of schoolchildren interact with elephants in a playful way, which now will no more possible.
I have donated items from my personal collection in auctions to help raise money in order to support Heinecke and his elephant foundation and I know that every cent goes straight back to the elephants. Unlike PETA, who spend most of the donations they collect for elephants on campaigning – your public financial records show that very clearly.