Are you familiar with the photos where happy tourists on the back of an elephant? We see it everywhere, many companies use such photos to attract customers. Most of us who go for it are animal lovers - because we love this beautiful animal, and want to have the "once-in-a-lifetime" experience to interact with them.
But there are some ugly truth behind this activity - the elephants have gone through tremendous suffering for us to enjoy the moment and posing for photos.
They were captured from the wild
Elephants are not domestic animals, all the elephants you see are captured from the wild. They are social animals who live together as family like we humans do. However, baby elephants are on high demand as they are easier to capture and train. They would be separated from their mothers at a young age and spend the rest of their life in captivity.
They are broken
Elephants are intelligent animals with long-term memory and strong needs for affection. In order to get them 'trained' for riding or performance, the trainers go through a process to break their spirit. They are chained in a pen where they cannot move, often without water or food; they are beaten with bullhook (with a sharp end) till they bleed all over; they are forced to go into positions that break their bones.
They are over-worked and poorly treated
They are money making machines. They will walk miles under the sun without having a rest; they are fed with poor food and sickness are often over-looked; they are chained up so they cannot move even a little bit when they are not 'working'. When you see an elephant moves side-by-side or swings its feet, they are not dancing, they are frustrated.
This is an issue very close to the heart of our female travel community If you care, here's how you can make a difference.
Do not go to any rides or performance. There are other ways to enjoy interaction with them - in their nature habitats when they are free. Fortunately, the world is waking up to this issue and there are many sanctuaries have opened with the purpose to rescue them. You can book a tour with these sanctuaries, where you can go for a walk with the elephants, take a bath with them, make medicine for them, learn about them. And your money will be spent on making their life better, no causing them to suffer.
Spread the word. Most people do it as they are not aware of the ugly truth. Just let them know.
Sign the pledge. World Animal Protection is working with policy makers and tour operators to make a different, help the movement by signing HERE.
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