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.
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.
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, responsibletravel.com revealed the brutal process these young elephants go through.
“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:
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:
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,