A woman who was pictured performing a pull-up on an elephant’s tusks has faced severe criticism and backlash after the images circulated on social media.
The woman, identified as Emma Roberts, was reportedly visiting Adventures with Elephants, the elephant park based in the Mabula District of South Africa when the incident took place.
However, the gym owner is not the only one to have faced criticism. The animal sanctuary has suffered backlash for its decision to allow Roberts to pose for pictures of her hanging from the elephant’s tusks in the first place.
Yet this isn’t the first time that Adventures with Elephants has allowed such a thing to happen.
Various images have circulated on social media in which people can be seen hanging from the elephants’ tusks and in some photos, as many as three people are riding an elephant at once – this is considered cruel by many as it will put strain on the elephant’s back.
The incident sparked a mass of anger online when Roberts was photographed performing the pull-up.
One person wrote: “Absolutely abhorrent. People don’t understand the horror that wild animals go through to ‘perform’. Elephant spines are not meant for holding humans’ weight.”
Another added: “Can’t believe she did that. She doesn’t have common sense and empathy. The elephant deserves to be treated with respect. Be kind to them.”
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Despite there being such an uproar regarding the issue, Roberts has defended her actions and disagrees with those saying it is cruel. She said that she doesn’t think that sharing such an incredible moment with such a magnificent creature can be seen as cruel in way, shape or form.
The gym owner agreed that the animal deserves to be treated with respect but added that she hadn’t harmed the elephant in any way and that there hadn’t been any malicious intent behind her actions.
Although she argued her case, Roberts has since deleted the photo.
In a statement, she said: “For the sake of this amazing facility, I have opted to remove my post. I do not agree that sharing an amazing moment with this animal is cruel in any way. However, there are many humans out there who only see the negative. Beating elephants is cruel, keeping them in horrible environments, and killing them for their ivory is cruel. (But) providing them home in their natural environment and educating people about how intelligent and wonderful they are is not cruelty.”