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Nasty twist after Phuket elephant attacks Aussie

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Nothing spoils a family holiday like being trampled by an elephant – and the situation worsens when you have to bear the costs of medical treatment yourself.

A young elephant attacked an Australian man on Mai Khao beach on Phuket’s north-west coast last week in an area near five-star resorts. There was no keeper, fence or warning sign, a friend of the victim told the Sydney Morning Herald.

It seems the female elephant suddenly turned on Chan Yun, 62, pushing him to the ground and trying to step on him.

Chan, from the Sydney suburb of Newington, was in Phuket for a family wedding. He suffered multiple rib fractures, spinal and kidney injuries, requiring surgery. Doctors at the intensive care unit of Bangkok International Hospital in Phuket are reportedly making arrangements to transfer him to Sydney by air ambulance – an enormous expense.

Reports said Chan’s travel insurance had been rejected because of a pre-existing medical condition.

His family issued a statement warning Australians travelling overseas about the dangers of interacting with wild animals, including young elephants, the paper said.

Some tourists (though not Chan, it seems) go out to interact with animals. Because of the risks, and sometimes cruelty to animals involved, several travel companies, including Australia’s Intrepid, refuse to book elephant rides or treks for their customers.

TripAdvisor announced last month it would stop selling tickets to attractions where tourists come into contact with wild animals, such as riding elephants, “tiger selfies” and holding sea turtles. TripAdvisor’s associated brand Viator (developed in Australia, incidentally) will create an online education portal where people can learn about the cruelty involved.

Research by Oxford University found three out of four animal attractions involve some form of cruelty.

Written by Peter Needham