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|Elephant in the room: Naomi, Russian boyfriend enrage PETA with polo match|
5 November, 2012
Supermodel Naomi Campbell and her Russian billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin are planning to stage an elephant polo match for Doronin’s 50th birthday. Their ambitious plan prompted accusations of promoting animal cruelty.
The couple will host celebratory festivities in India’s Jodhpur, Rajasthan's famous "blue city" next week. Some 80 celebrity guests that will likely include Mick Jagger's daughter Jade, supermodels Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and fashion designer Donatella Versace, The Daily Telegraph reports. However according to the organizers the guest list is veiled in secrecy.
The series of parties will be staged at the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh’s Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel, famous for hosting the marriage of actress Liz Hurley to Indian businessman Arun Nayyar in 2006.
Among the celebratory activities will be the controversial elephant polo tournament at the city's polo club grounds. Vikram Singh Rathore, a leading figure in international polo, will bring seven elephants from Jaipur specially for the tournament.
The planned match enraged India’s animal rights organization. The animal defenders claim the journey from Jaipur, that may take up to 10 hours in trucks on bad roads will be a cruel challenge for the animals. Apart from that, organization spokesperson Benazir Suraya says the training of the elephants for polo is also cruel abuse, as the mahouts use sharp steel bull hooks.
The organization calls on the couple to drop their plans or they will be slapped with an official complaint.
"Constantly kept in chains, elephants used for polo are driven insane and exhibit signs of immense frustration, including repetitive swaying, rocking and head-bobbing. The chains also result in painful wounds and pressure sores, which often become infected," Suraya said.
Elephant polo is played in Asia in states such as Thailand, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Reuters / Sukree Sukplang