Remove this from your Bucket List, NOW

Plenty of my closest friends, family and Facebook friends have put up awesome pictures of their awesome holidays in the awesome continent of Asia. I myself have not got there yet and until this week one of the major things to do on my bucket list was ride and bathe an Elephant.

Now before you get defensive, it does look like an awesome and fun thing to do, because of course the Elephants are happy right, they’re tame so it means they were brought up this way, and everyone else has done it so it has to be fine! This sheep mentality of western tourists is to blame for the increasing amount of Asian elephants dying from over exhaustion, and maybe even depression.

An elepahnt that has died from exhaustion source: Twitter

An elephant that has died from exhaustion source: Twitter

I’m going to keep it short, because I imagine that by now, some people have clicked off this blog because they still want to have a cheap ride on that Elephant and get the ultimate selfie, if you are one of those people, you’re a dick.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning people who have done it, as I said in the introduction to this piece, I myself, until this week, have always dreamed of doing it. But then you get pictures of people like the ones below this paragraph, of  drunk tourist dickheads riding on a terrified baby elephant, who does that, probably me a few years ago, but I aspire to be better.

Tourists at Nikki Beach

Tourists at Nikki Beach source: Facebook

One of the things I’ve learnt after researching this cruel tourist trade, is that Elephant spines are not even designed to carry weight, the saddles ‘made’ for Elephant riding, are actually crushing their spines and giving them horrific back problems, and injuries as big and as deep as your arm.

What’s more these Elephants are not bred in captivity, they are taken from the wild as babies and ‘broken in’ so that they respond to human control. A UK based travel company, revealed the brutal process these young elephants go through.

A young elephant being 'broken in' Source: Twitter

A young elephant being ‘broken in’ Source: Twitter

“A young elephant is kept in a cage for several days and tied to prevent it from moving. It may be deprived of food, water or sleep, and beaten, burned and stabbed to literally beat it into submission. Almost all captive elephants across Asia have endured some kind of breaking in process, and a newly broken in baby elephant can be worth thousands of dollars.

Ironically, in Thailand, wild elephants are protected — yet their captive cousins have no laws protecting them at all. There are no welfare standards that elephant camps and sanctuaries have to adhere to, and no criteria for riding. This means they can be ridden all day, chained all day, they can carry as many tourists will fit on their back, and they can be hit with bull hooks to control them. In extreme cases, they may also be given amphetamines to suppress their huge appetites and make them work longer hours.”

Don’t know what a Bull Hook is? Here’s a brief explanation:

How a Bull Hook is used to abuse Elephants

How a Bull Hook is used to abuse Elephants Source: Twitter

And if you’re thinking that these animals are too big and stupid to know what’s happening to them, it’s been proven that Elephants are creatures that have been proven to grieve, that’s right:

Elephants cry.

An Elephant Crying

An Elephant Crying

This is not a lecture, this is a warning. Humans do shit things to each other and to other living things every day, you turn on the news for 5 minutes and it’s there. Make the world and yourself better, and avoid this monstrous abuse of such majestic creatures.

Respect this extremely intelligent and increasingly endangered species by spending your money to get them off chains and into reputable sanctuaries with healthy welfare standards, Or even put the money you were going to spend at the Elephant Nature Park, a rescue centre and sanctuary for elephants that have previously been abused, or even follow Friends of the Asian Elephant, which is a hospital for Elephants.

And if you’re STILL not convinced, just watch this,


115 thoughts on “Remove this from your Bucket List, NOW

    1. Thanks for this!

      This is really sad, not just for elephants but also for all other animals in zoos and the like where they’re being trained to entertain or do something for people. And reality is that it’s something that’s very hard to control right now 😦

  1. I have ridden an elephant in Sri was years ago I didn’t know this was what they did .I must say the elephant that we rode was enormous not a baby .

  2. I would say this is quite exaggerated but when i was there last week, watching elephant and monkey shows, there was a lot of stuff i disagreed with, such as over feeding them till they wouldn’t eat any more, forcing the monkey to do trick it clearly didn’t want to do with a metal ring around its neck, and just over working all the animals.

    1. You believe it’s over exaggerated yet you’ve seen first hand circus abuse? Just imagine what they do behind closed doors if they don’t mind showing the audience a monkey being forced to do tricks because of a metal ring around its neck. We don’t need any more ignorance on this subject. It is brutal, horrific, and it is sadly all very true.

  3. ok… I’m positive these practices of animal cruelty happen 100% im not disagreeing with that. But throwing all elephant riding under the same blanket is uneducated and “the boy who cried wolf” people stop listening when articles like this are published. I have rode an elephant bare back(max2 people)in Thailand only recently I researched the company and asked all the appropriate questions I needed to know about the welfare of the animals before I would ride one. The elephants are all microchipped so none have been poached from the wild, they are kept under shade during there rest periods in the 5 hour total working day. And only 2 of those hours were for rides which the elephants only have 2 one hour rides a day through rivers and mud baths so they can keep cool( u get mud thrown all over you in the process) the other 3 hours involves baths with elephants feeding times with the two groups per day. The elephants working day stops at 2:00pm and they are free to feed and roam around. For those of you who read this.. Research the conditions of these animals and never support something that you don’t agree with but don’t boycott elephant riding over the minority of pigs who do mistreat elephants

    1. I understand what you’re saying, but I have to disagree. When people see the popularity of industries such as this, they begin their own enterprises. Competition between businesses will always lead to people offering cheaper prices, which leads to longer working hours and worse conditions for both people and animals, depending on the industry. That is why there are such horrendous conditions in factory farms and sweatshops, and it will always be the case. Until the industry as a whole becomes unpopular and demand decreases there will ALWAYS be exploitation of those without voices. I don’t believe in the use of animals for anything, it’s predominantly barbaric and completely unnecessary for modern, western societies, which are quite obviously the primary consumer for things like meat, fur, leather and entertainment such as elephant riding. Supporting any company which offers elephant riding indirectly supports the oppression of amazingly intelligent animals which would be healthier and happier in the wild, and therefore I believe that people, including myself, should choose not to support it.

      1. That may be a company that currently treats their elephants well. But you have to ask how they were trained to work in the first place. Their not automatically put into giving treks. This is what in her article she is talkif about the crushing period where babies are taken from the mother, put into an enclosure where they are beaten for seven days until they are completely submissive. You have to ask the company how did they become submissive to humans. And a lot if the times these companies will flat out lie to you and claim they are good or a sanctuary when their not. Of course some companies are better than others. But the most important thing to know is how the elephant came to be submissive.

    2. Zac, so what company did you go with? How did they ethically “train” their elephants into submission? I’m not too sure I agree with your comment but if you can supply some more info I will look into it. When I was there I found it hard enough to even find a legitimate sanctuary. I’m happy I can also recommend the Elephant Nature Park. Lek, the owner is such an inspiring and amazing lady and her and her staff do a wonderful job of rescuing these beautiful creatures. I think your tourist dollar is definitely better spent there.

    3. You said you were in Thailand when you did that…right….?? Read the article again….
      Thailand has a law for protecting the elephants there….so there’s no wonder why those elephants you’ve saw were and are treated carefully…..
      And this article is saying that most elephants in Asia (most prabably, the Southern part) are the ones that undergo through harsh treatments….

      1. I am unaware of any laws that protect elephants in Thailand, if there are they certainly are not obeyed. Bangkok is one example in particular where you see elephants in the city for tourism. Have you ever seen an elephant rock back and forth? Its common with the ones taken out to the city streets. Thats a major sign of stress. Their feet are super sensitve…. contrary to what their owners/trainer’s will say.
        The Elephant Nature Park was actually the only ethical sanctuary i found when i researched this online and it just so happened to be in Thailand.
        Even on our way to ENP we had to drive past and witness elephants with chains around there feet, trainer’s with bull hooks and of course with tourists on the backs of each.
        Unfortunately, as long as their is a demand for it this cruel industry will exist. I think education and awareness is what we need and I believe there are many more positive and productive things our tourist money can be spent on in those communities.

      2. You’ve entirely missed the point of that bit about Thailand protecting wild elephants, I suggest you read that part again.

    4. I have just returned from working with and studying elephants in Asia and it is unfortunately not the minority that mistreat these majestic animals, its the majority. As it states in the article, Elephants’ spines aren’t designed for carrying the weight of humans, whether a baby elephant or a grown adult – I witnessed this in multiple sanctuaries where rescued elephants sadly had deformed spines from being ridden. You say they only work a 5 hour day and rest in-between as if it’s a good thing but elephants aren’t made to work. They are wild and beautiful animals. They shouldn’t be tamed or domesticated.

      Elephant riding should be boycott. Having an incredible experience with elephants in a respected sanctuary is much more worth your time and money. I spent much time at the Elephant Nature Park (mentioned in the above article) and it is an incredible place that works to rehabilitate elephants that have been mistreated in the tourist trade.

      I know its scary to see and admit to ourselves how cruel human kind can be when it comes to making money, but as far as elephant tourism goes in Asia this is often the case and please please do not support it.

    5. Riding elephants should be boycotted full stop.. they shouldn’t have to work any hours of the day.. ” only” two hours is two hours too much.

  4. Great article! I visited the Elephant Nature Park last week and it was fantastic to see these rescued elephants finally enjoying the freedom they deserve after years of abuse and suffering. For anyone looking to have an experience with these gentle creatures in their natural environment, I would highly recommend booking for a day at the park. Anyone who condemns or does not believe what has been written in this article is just plain ignorant.

  5. Reblogged this on MegsWanderings and commented:
    I saw this on Facebook and I had to give it a read, as I have always wanted to go to Asia to see the Elephants. Maybe even ride them… but I won’t now! These animals are so beautiful, why do people not treat them as they should?

  6. It’s horrible that this even exists. Humans have all these “traditions” and “culture behaviors” that shows how unintelligent humans actually are most of the time. Most times humans simply do what “we always have done” or “because it’s tradition”. Following a pattern instead of actually question the things we do. People accept the reality of the world of which they are presented. And in this case a lot of people attend to this event/activity because it’s socially acceptable and people are presented with the reality that this is a “cool” thing or a “beautiful experience” that one must do if one is visiting Asia simply because people accept that this is okay because that’s what they have grown up to believe in. And when you are trying to inform the reality of the elephants of the torture they are living in, then people don’t wanna know about it just so they don’t have to feel bad about what they are supporting. Sometimes i feel ashamed of being human.

    But one thing they wrote here is not true: “And if you’re thinking that these animals are too big and stupid to know what’s happening to them, it’s been proven that Elephants, aside from humans, are the only other creatures who grieve”

    Elephants are NOT the “aside from humans, ONLY other creature who grieve”. Every animal with a central nerve system can feel and experience pain as well as all the other feelings that humans as well can feel. THIS is scientifically proven, so where they got that fact from, i don’t know but I’m interested in the source. Humans are to egoistic to understand that we are not the only species who can experience pain and other emotions. We share this quality with a lot of other animals. We humans are just as much an animals as any other species but humans keep seeing itself as “something better”. Animal cruelty is never okay… Thank you to all you who fight this cruelty.

  7. I almost clicked away. Not because I am one of those people who “still want to ride an elephant”, because that was never on my bucketlist. I almost clicked away because this is horrible. Truly heartbreaking.. I do have something else involving elephants on my list however, which is helping elephants. I don’t know how, but I wish to be one of the people that make elephants happy. And after reading this I want it even more.

  8. Are you saying the Elephant Nature Park is an OK one to visit? I can read that sentence either way. I’m currently scheduled to go there, so I want to make sure it’s one of the seemingly few good ones. Thanks!

    1. Hey Sarah, I’ve been there! I found it very difficult to find a legitimate sanctuary when I was there and was very happy I had found that one. I still had my doubts until I arrived at the park, but that was only because it hadn’t been personally recommended to me and with everyone trying to talk me into going to their “safe/ethical” places (that would still use chains, bull hooks, offered rides and other circus tricks) I didn’t know who to trust anymore. Lek, the owner of the Elephant Nature Park is one truly amazing woman and she has a whole team of awesome staff.

  9. I agree with this to an extent. We should ensure we are being responsible tourists for the sake of the environment and animals of the native country. However there are rescue sanctuaries that still need tourists to come and look at the Elephants to survive! They rescue working elephants from the above mentioned conditions to enjoy the rest of their lives in peace. You can still enjoy feeding and bathing one of these elephants whilst giving to a worthy cause. So no need to cross it all of your bucket list just do your research first! This experience is much more rewarding than riding them…I know as I have done both the latter made me very uncomfortable and will not be done again!

  10. I agree with you 100%. These animals are not for human entertainment. I do not condone any mistreatment of animals for tourism at all. For me the only place I would get a thrill out of seeing an animal would be in the wild or at a push, a wildlife park / zoo where they are cared for and there for their best interests (i.e. Well managed Breeding programmes, rehabilitation etc). Humans can be a horrible horrible species sometimes! Makes me sad.

  11. Thank you for creating awareness on that issue . It is a horrible and cruel treatment for elephants and this ongoing cruelty caused by humans on animals should be stopped through organization like WWF and by concerned any human beings on this issue .

  12. Just another article by an emotionally charged overly sensitive woman. People like the author of this article are insensitive to the infiviuals who work in this trade. They are from completely poor countries and often need to resort to this “trade” to generate income for their family. Unlike most of you, I value human life over the life of an adult. Are there alternatives for work? Yes. If you really want to effectuate change then put your energies into showing these individuals how to generate income elsewhere because all you’re doing is sounding like a stuck-up bleeding heart liberal who cares more for animals than humanity. Get off of your high-horse and put your energy into something more meaningful. We slaughter millions of our unborn every year, yet people would rather care more for an animal than a human life. We are a disgusting species who cares more for animals than for human life. How pathetic.

  13. Thanks for your post. I was really wondering before, how these elephants do tricks or even how skillful those people who actually trained them.

  14. I disagree with what anyone is saying that it’s ok to ride an elephant as long as they are treated well, the company is legit etc. etc. it’s shouldn’t be done full stop as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always dreamed of seeing elephants for myself in person, but the only place I’ve ever wanted to see them is in the wild or at a rescue sanctuary where I could offer my help. The thought of riding an elephant has never once crossed my mind. Nor should it cross anyone else’s.

  15. And Kat I think that you need to have a sit down and think about what you are saying, people are entitled to there own opinion and I think that your comment is completely contradictory. If you actually cared more for humanity you wouldn’t have said all those nasty things about the author of this post. Maybe people care more for animals than people because people do nothing but tread their feet all over animals and we will stop at nothing to entertain and please ourselves instead of other living beings. You maybe need to stop and think that people on this planet care more about animals than humans because we have taken over the world and left no room for every other fucking animal. It’s humans that take away animals habitat. It’s humans that hunt these animals, making other humans get away with saying that they are rescuing these animals when actually they are just using them for their entertainment. It’s high up HUMANS that make these other humans poor because they don’t put their money into anything but buying themselves nice new houses. Its people like you who are selfish so carry on thinking the way you do just like many disgusting humans will think just like you. Leave the rest of the people who care more about animals, think what ever they are entitled to; their own thoughts.

  16. To Kate, tourist attractions with elephants (all animals) are from the past. There are many other ways to earn money, just be creative and stop with outdated traditions. Advise to the locals is: start changing the elephant rides into other ways of earning money from tourists, because the new generations are becomming aware of the Phajaan, the suffering and abuse by beating elephants into submission. This is going viral and in the west we have advertising campages running saying: “PLEDGE TO NEVER SIT ON AN ELEPHANT IN ASIA”. The Phajaan is can no longer be secret because of the multi media and smart phones.

  17. there is an amazing sanctuary in chaing mai in Thailand that helps rescue elephants. You can visit for a day or help the elephants for a week. The woman that runs it is thai and shows that you do not need to train an elephant through abuse.

  18. So true…we went to a south arfican elephant rescue Centre last year and they talked about the different trainings of asian elephants and african elephants. In this sanctuary they are rescued (be it from orphanage or in one case their biggest male went on a stampede damaging several towns but were rehabilitated). They showed their training techniques and base it on a reward system, not submissive. The animals are also not “kept” instead they have to find their own food etc on the thousand of aches of the sanctuary. No bull horns are ever used and they truely respect the animals. All elephants and animals should be treated with love and respect. I will never step foot in any of those asian countries like thailand who do not respect aniimal rights.

  19. I did ride on an elephant in Laos, at the time I believed they were saved from plantation slavery. I felt sad 😥 that I was riding an old 60yr old female, she looked depressed and sad.i spent time feeding and stoking this old girl and when I looked into her eyes she was crying! My god it changed my whole outlook..they were chained which upset me. They looked healthier than the ones in Cambodia that looked beaten and had open gapping sores! So so sad! We as humans don’t look after our world, our animals or our children…yet we hold ourselves up as being civilised…yeah right. Very insightful article.

  20. Reblogged this on angelofchangeandsapphiredragon and commented:
    This is truly the telling, that humans are the most dangerous, abusive, and heartless race…
    All I can do is lead by example. And I would never, have never ever, considered doing this.
    I have considered volunteering somewhere, to care for any elephants that would have me. I would love bathing with, eating with, (or just feeding them), and doing any other caring task, that needs doing.
    I have to say, my depth of feeling’s for elephants is enormous.
    And I think about them everyday. I am currently having a elephant tattoo drawn up, and will be having it done hopefully within the next week. And everyday a little piece of my heart goes out to all the elephant’s that aren’t getting to live happy lives. And if I could, I would personally stop every abuse, jail every abuser,and pay for therapy for each and every elephant that needs it. I would also like to reunite every one of them with their families.
    Please won’t you join me. Help educate everyone you know. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Blog, ect…and if you can, donate to a reputable sanctuary.
    I cannot emphasize enough, just how much they NEED OUR HELP!!
    And it’s nochoicesthis..The Ivory trade in Africa is responsible for the approaching extinction of elephant’s there. Many are murdered everyday, just for their tusks. It is a truly sad and hurtful thing, that humans are so blinded by want of something, they never consider the true cost, and the impacts of their choices.😭
    I am the angel of change, and I’m here to share the truth💙

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