I normally give an introduction to the blog I’m writing, but I want you to get the point of it before you stop reading. So, let’s jump right into it: Riding elephants is inhumane. If you want exposure to elephants while in Thailand, you should look up humane options. I have a link to some researched ethical venues towards the end of the blog.
When I initially thought about traveling to Thailand, all I could think was, “I can’t wait to ride the elephants and go to the Phi Phi Island!” I was so excited. Those two activities were at the top of my list. I learned the unsettling truth about my elephant encounter after the excursion while expressing my excitement to another traveler who stayed in the same hotel as me.
Here I am, going on and on about how amazing the elephant excursion was and as soon as I mentioned the word ride, the other traveler cringed. Of course, I asked “Why the face?” *curious voice* lol
She then explained to my friends and I about her experience in Chiang Mai at an elephant sanctuary for ones that were rescued from logging and tourism industries similar to ours.
I was disturbed to say the least. After doing research of my own, I found out that Asian elephants are an endangered species. Foreigners paying good money to ride the elephants or see them do circus tricks are the only reason why elephants are illegally captured and trading continues. Completely unaware of the inhumane acts against elephants in Thailand, my friends I paid for the following excursion.
Bangkok Day Tours
Here are some quick facts:
Phajaan (the crush) is the process of getting an elephant to become submissive to humans
Phajaan involves the capture and beating of baby elephants as well as separating them from their mothers in the wild
Elephants are animals of the wild and must be tamed before being able to ride them
Even though elephants are massive animals, their spines are not made to support the weight of humans and especially not anything heavier
Bull-hooks are used to stab elephants during their taming process and to control them afterwards
Chains around the feet or necks of the elephants are signs that the elephants are still being mistreated
It’s easy to understand why someone would want to interact and ride an elephant. I made the mistake of doing so myself. Since I document my travels, I felt obligated to share this particular experience individually from my Thailand experience as a whole. The majority of foreigners who participate in elephant riding and their circus activities are oblivious to how they are treated and some may not care. It’s not my place to judge those who do participate in these activities. I just travel the world to see and learn new things in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
Link to researched ethical venues
Another source of information on elephant tourism
Videos of the harsh realities to elephant tourism