In my SERIOUSLY? articles I talk about everything I hate about traveling: destinations that are so overrated, everything that goes wrong during my travels and activities that I absolutely hate. One of those activities is riding elephants, including visiting elephant sanctuaries. How is it possible that people are still riding elephants? I mean, come on people… it’s almost 2019. Even Kim Kardashian was riding an elephant not that long ago. Shame on you, Kim K.
I have to admit: I’m guilty too
Shit, I’ve done it myself. I was eleven years old, went to Asia for the first time ever and with all my life experience I thought it was a good idea to get on an elephant. Not once, not twice, but three times. I washed them in a river, took hundreds of photos with them and I even made a picture with me on the tusk of the elephant. I know, it’s so bad and I feel guilty. But I just want to be honest.
Almost 2019 and people still do this?
That was thirteen years ago and I can’t believe people are still doing it. Everyday I see those pictures on Instagram with the most positive descriptions. It’s so horrible. Have people really no idea that this is the worst thing you can do to elephants? Or do they know but they just don’t care? I don’t know what’s worse, but it’s both very, very stupid. Have you no idea as well (how is that even possible?), just read all the information below.
The babies are taken away from their mothers
Babies are the easiest targets, because they are most likely to learn other skills. And they can tame and shape them so that they become working animals. Because the babies are taken away, the family is forced to split and elephants always live with their families. They’re like humans: family is so important and they always live together. And to make this heartbroken situation even worse: most of the time the mother of the baby fights for her life to stay with her child, but then they shot the mother dead. Everything for the tourists, right?
They get abused so bad
To get the babies tamed, they are getting abused so bad. Think about chains and whipping. They have to ‘get used’ to all the whipping, so they know the feeling of pain. This is the ultimate way to get them prepared. I mean, that’s so sad. According to investigators this causes physical pain, but also post-traumatic stress disorders and that’s unacceptable.
The elephants have little space to live
Wild elephants can go wherever they want to, but the working elephants can’t. They are getting tied up by chains or they can walk a few meters. Even during daytime, when it’s very hot, it’s not possible for them to rest in the shade, like they normally do. Think about carrying people in the hot sun.
The animals have a lot of physical damage
Besides the direct abuse, like hitting, they get a lot of physical damage. Think about back and weight problems. But also there feet and knees are damaged.
Elephant sanctuaries are not okay either
More and more people are – luckily – getting aware of this horrible experience but the leaders of those organizations are not stupid and that’s why they’re opening more elephant sanctuaries. This seems like a great thing to do, but the name ‘sanctuary’ is just to attract tourists. They’re doing the exact same thing to these elephants like they used to do in the other elephants camps, but most of the time you can’t really see this. Every kind of physical contact with tourists is so bad, so if this is the case in the sanctuary you are visiting, you can conclude this is a terrible sanctuary.
Do you still want to take an elephant ride or visit a touristy elephant sanctuary in the future, you are a horrible person. Do you know anyone that has sit on an elephant or who wants to visit an elephant sanctuary somewhere (Thailand in particular), just copy the link of this article and send this to your friends. Let’s spread the word together.
Thank you for riding this! I was in Sri Lanka not too long ago and saw a tourist riding an elephant. Of course, he was taking selfies on top of the poor animal and I am guessing for his IG. When the elephant walked by me I could have sworn the elephant was crying. It had chains around its ankles and you could see the scars from the chains rubbing its skin. When the elephant is not giving tourists rides, it is chained to a tree. Then I saw a girl on a Sri Lankan IG account wearing a flowy red dress (not unique whatsoever) on top of the elephant. And the photo received so many likes! It is sad to see IG accounts, and also people glorifying themselves on top of these creatures just for their stupid selfies. It is so sad!
I totally agree. It’s absolutely heartbreaking! I just don’t understand why people do everything for a photo. How sad… 🙁