It’s often a challenge for me to parse UK newspapers, unlike USA media many don’t maintain even a pretense of objectivity. Reading the first sentence of this article by The Mirror it would sound dire.

“Poor Sombo has been forced to pound the pavements for 30 years after being captured and tortured by communist rebels.”


A few days ago there was a more nuanced article by The Phnom Penh Post, followed by a TravelFish summary.

It’s pretty clear that Sambo’s owner is aware of the situation and would be happy to see she gets care.
It’s hard to find someone in Phnom Penh who isn’t a Sombo fan.

The real challenge is that Sombo’s mahout, Sin Sorn, will lose his main source of income. So to retire an elephant, you’ve pretty much got to ‘drop the mahout‘.

It’s easy to sympathize with a symbol like Sombo. Like many Cambodians, she is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge time, and has health injuries originating from that horrible time. Many of my older Cambodian friends suffer from fairly preventable health issues such as bad teeth, high blood pressure, and stress-related illnesses. There is a lack of access to diagnosis, medicine and treatment.

Let’s heal Sambo. And while we’re at it, she can serve as a reminder of a larger concern facing the citizens of a relatively poor country.

Petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/retire-sambo-ban-elephants-in-phnom-pehn
(As of this writing? 3,183 signatories.)


(If you’d like to read more about health issues in Cambodia, I highly recommend ‘Diapers and Durians‘.

One Response to “Elephant Tortured by Communists?”

  1. Torri says:

    “…Sin Son, whose rate for the popular [elephant] ride has risen to $15. Such prosperity has enabled Sin Son to send four children to college; his oldest son even went to Utah to study information technology.” Christian Science Monitor, Apr 2008 http://bit.ly/y8tNDl

    An income problem?

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