When going on vacation, holidaymakers are usually after experiences: new foods, incredible scenery, no routine and sometimes exotic local entertainment which is usually branded as ‘’a must do when you are there’’. Besides its famous movie scenery and the best massage experiences, Thailand’s vacation promotions often include cruel elephant rides. Despite the industry’s cruelty, 2 out of 5 tourists from 10 countries say they were planning to go elephant riding while on vacation in Thailand.
Here are 6 secrets about the elephant riding industry in Thailand you should know:
1. The elephant taming process (called ‘the crush’) is a cruel procedure, which aims to break the elephant ‘s spirit and force them to obey. Its cruel practices involve poking elephants with bullhooks to the most sensitive places of their bodies as well as using sticks, whips, and electric prods. Remember, if you ever see a calm looking wild animal (whether it is an elephant, a tiger or a lion) in captivity, do not mistake it for happiness. It simply means that the animal was beaten into submission since childhood and its spirit is broken.
2. Since elephants do not breed well in captivity, most of the elephants brought to the tourism industry are stolen from the wild as babies. Even though baby elephants are strongly dependent on their mothers and need nurturing, they are stolen so they can be trained for useless entertainment.
3. Elephants in slavery are often kept in abusive conditions. Spiky long chains are used on them 24/7, and in addition to unbearable heat while carrying or waiting for tourists comes long work times and no chance to cool down in the water or mud. At times, they are even denied food, water, and veterinary assistance.
4. Sadly, due to the conditions they are being kept in, the elephants get various disorders which are not common in the wild. Disorders include back pain, obesity, tuberculosis, skin diseases, wounds caused by chains, and even the herpes virus. Statistically, elephants held in captivity live a lot less than their natural lifespan allows them to.
5. Being extremely intelligent creatures, elephants express human-like emotions, such as sadness, mourning, and joy. After going through ‘‘the crush‘‘ experience, elephants are left with post-traumatic behaviours. Tourists visiting trekking camps sometimes report unusual elephant behaviour: swaying, pacing, and bobbing their heads. Animal specialists say these are the signs of serious psychological stress.
6. Baby elephants are usually chained to their mothers while they give rides, therefore being forced to walk at a fast pace, being hit with a bullock at times too. Even though the little ones need nurturing at times, their needs are left unfulfilled as the trek must continue!Do you want to support such a cruel industry?
They say if you want to change the world, start with yourself. Here’s what you can do to help elephants worldwide:
– Next time you are in Thailand, do not consider riding elephants or visiting doubtful sanctuaries,
– Advise your friends and family about these cruel practices and advise them to not support this animal abuse industry,
– Share this article and spread the knowledge!
– Sign this commitment and promise to never take elephant rides: