Tourists traveling to Thailand are being advised to stop supporting businesses where you can ride elephants after photos came out on the internet of these animals’ injuries for the sake of ‘entertainment.’
There horrifying images that were shared on Twitter was most likely taken in Phuket, which is a popular beach holiday destination in Thailand. The poor elephants are seen with blood dripping down their heads because of the sharp metal hooks their caretakers continuously hit them with, so they can walk with the tourists atop. Another photo that was uploaded shows an elephant with old scars on its head.
Twitter user Abang Da Balik originally posted these photos last April and drew a reaction from Thailand officials. Thousands of Western tourists visit Thailand every year, and one of the main attractions they enjoy is riding, feeding and watching these ‘show’ elephants perform. But after the realizations that this is animal cruelty, tourists are now being urged to stop supporting this business.
A representative from the Tourism Authority of Thailand told Yahoo News:
Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business.
We never support tourists riding the elephants.
According to the World Animal Protection, about 3,000 elephants are being used for entertainment in Asia, with 77% of them being treated inhumanely.
Dr Patrapol Maneeorn, a Wildlife Veterinarian of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that Thailand is doing what it can to stop all animal cruelty in their country.
“What we are doing is collaborating with different organisations and sectors in Thailand to reduce and hopefully eliminate animal cruelty as much as possible,” he said.
At this moment, there are 3,500 wild elephants and 4,500 domesticated elephants in Thailand, and although the national law protects the wild elephants, these 4,500 domestic animals are considered working animals.
According to Dr. Maneeorn, the local government agencies have tried various attempts to finally eradicate animal abuse, which included ‘policy-making, supporting research on wildlife, rehabilitating injured animals, and eradicating the illegal wild animal trade.’
“Travel businesses and individual tourists can help government agencies by boycotting businesses that do not take good care of animals.”
The act of taming elephants is a process that is as horrific as how they are treated when they are put to work. Many of them in captivity are beaten with sharp objects so they behave, and the abuse only continues. A behavior of when they sway their head side to side is shallowly understood as a playful tendency, when in reality, it is a coping mechanism for isolation. Elephants are taken from their mothers as calves and forced into a life of horrible abuse.
On the bright side, there are some sanctuaries fighting for the prevention of mistreatment of these beautiful animals. At Elephant Valley, they can freely roam around and are only fed once a day, as opposed to other areas that physically force them perform antics for tourists’ entertainment.
Here’s to further improved living conditions and eradication of inhumane treatment for these gentle animals.
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