Kim Kardashian-West has responded to critics who accused her of “animal cruelty” after she was pictured riding an elephant in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The 38-year-old was visiting an elephant sanctuary with her two young children, North and Saint, and has insisted that she “did full research” before arriving.
But photographs of the reality TV star sat astride one of the animals prompted a diatribe on social media, with wildlife campaigners calling her actions “disgusting” and “irresponsible”.
“You should be ashamed of yourself riding those elephants,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Those elephants should be free and shouldn’t have to drive you and your family around!”
Another added: “Why am I not surprised that in 2018 Kim Kardashian is riding elephants and further promoting animal exploitation tourism.
“Disgusting and irresponsibly cruel. If you knew what pain and torture they’ve been through.”
@KimKardashian really???? Riding an elephant for a photo shoot. Not cool. You should know better by leading by example for your kids. But then again, what kind of example do you want to be? They are sensitive beings. Ignorance is not attractive. #AnimalAbuse #AnimalCruelty— Alias Girl (@AliasGirl2u) November 4, 2018
Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan, who played Hugh MacClare, tweeted the images and accused the mother-of-two of “ignorance and such a lack of care”.
He continued: “Doesn’t she understand the cruelty inflicted on these poor elephants in order for her inane photo shoot?”
Several hours later, the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star responded to Egan, writing: “We visited an elephant sanctuary that has rescued these elephants from Sumatra where they would have otherwise gone extinct.
“It is an organisation that is working to save these beautiful animals. We did full research before going.”
We visited an elephant sanctuary that has rescued these elephants from Sumatra where they would have otherwise gone extinct. It is an organization that is working to save these beautiful animals. We did full research before going.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 4, 2018
A representative from the animal rights organisation PETA has explained how riding elephants can have adverse effects.
“All over the world, tourist traps offer the chance to climb up on an elephant's back without divulging what these animals endure,” said Rachel Matthews, deputy director at PETA in the US.
“Baby elephants have their spirits broken through an egregiously cruel process in which still-nursing elephants are dragged from their mothers, immobilised, and gouged with bull hooks and nails.
“These horrific, ritualized training sessions often leave elephants severely injured and traumatized, and some do not survive. Riding elephants or visiting camps that force elephants to come into contact with humans directly supports these abuses.”