Benihana Sponsoring ‘Benefit’ Polo Match for Which Elephants Are Beaten

PETA Urges Chain to Pull Support From Polo Tournament After Investigation Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Cruelty

For Immediate Release:
March 9, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Aventura, Fla. – In response to shocking video footage released this morning by PETA Asia showing handlers repeatedly beating elephants for Anantara Hotel’s 2018 King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, PETA is calling on Aventura-based Benihana to stop sponsoring the cruel tournament, which touts itself as a “charity” event for elephants.

The footage, shot from nearby hotel and apartment windows, shows handlers in a holding area next to the polo grounds repeatedly beating and jabbing the captive elephants’ heads with bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a long, sharp metal hook on one end) and pulling the animals with the hooks by their extremely sensitive ears.

“Beating elephants into ‘playing’ polo for public amusement while claiming to fund elephant conservation is a cruel scam, and the sponsors must pull out now,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on Benihana to stop putting its name on this abusive spectacle.”

Elephants used for polo tournaments, rides, or any other amusements endure violent training to break their spirits, during which they’re regularly beaten. Between matches, they’re often shackled so tightly that they can barely take a single step. Because of this cruelty, numerous tournaments have been canceled or lost sponsors—and Guinness World Records has struck all mention of elephant polo records from its pages.

In a letter sent today, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—also asked Dairy Queen, IBM, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and others to pull their sponsorships and urged the Minor Hotel Group, which owns the Anantara brand and is the organizer of the event, to end the tournament.

PETA’s letter to Benihana is available upon request. For more information, please visit

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