A baby elephant has died after his back legs snapped while attempting to perform tricks for tourists at a Thailand zoo.

The 3-year-old animal, which was forced to perform up to three times a day, was pictured looking emaciated and was suffering from an infection before he collapsed.

Campaign group Moving Animals raised serious concerns about the health of the baby elephant they named Dumbo, after witnessing the rigorous stunts he was expected to perform.

They shared video of his performances and launched a petition in a bid to have him released.

Advertisement

More than 220,000 had signed the petition, but on April 13 tragedy stuck when his two hind legs snapped after his front legs became stuck in a puddle of mud.

Days later he was dead.

Dumbo had been ill with an infection before he collapsed, and was kept at the zoo for three days by vets who did not realise his legs were broken. Photo / Moving Animals
Dumbo had been ill with an infection before he collapsed, and was kept at the zoo for three days by vets who did not realise his legs were broken. Photo / Moving Animals

Following Dumbo's death, Moving Animals issued statement revealing the truth about his failing health which was kept secret by zoo officials.

"We are devastated to announce that Dumbo has passed away.

"The campaign revealed his 'skeletal' body to the world, which raised concerns that he was ill.

"It now turns out that he had an infection in his digestive tract, and he became so weak that his back legs snapped beneath him.

Campaigners had been calling on the zoo to release Dumbo ahead of his death after noticing the emaciated male was being forced to perform up to three times per day. Photo / Moving Animals
Campaigners had been calling on the zoo to release Dumbo ahead of his death after noticing the emaciated male was being forced to perform up to three times per day. Photo / Moving Animals
A three-year-old male elephant dubbed Dumbo has died after he snapped both of his back legs inside his enclosure at Phuket Zoo, in Thailand. Photo / Moving Animals
A three-year-old male elephant dubbed Dumbo has died after he snapped both of his back legs inside his enclosure at Phuket Zoo, in Thailand. Photo / Moving Animals

"Despite this, the zoo did not realise his legs were broken for three days, until the baby elephant was finally taken to an elephant hospital.

"For Dumbo to die whilst under the so-called 'care' and 'treatment' of the zoo shows just how neglected these animals are in captivity.

Advertisement

"We want to thank everyone for their overwhelming support for Dumbo. We hope that Dumbo is now finding the peace that he was so cruelly denied in his lifetime, and that his tragic story will urge Thai authorities to finally put an end to these outdated animal performances."

Update: We are devastated to announce that “Dumbo” has passed away. The campaign calling for his freedom from Phuket...

Posted by Moving Animals on Friday, 17 May 2019

Phuket Zoo medics, however, claim Dumbo was in an isolation pen for his infection at the time he suffered his injuries.

A zoo veterinarian, speaking to the Phuket News, admitted that keepers did not realise the elephant had broken its legs until April 17, when he was taken to hospital.

The manager of Phuket Zoo denied Dumbo was abused or neglected before his death.

The zoo is now entitled to acquire another animal if it wishes.