When you are planning your trip to Thailand, you come for sure across some elephant experiences. Riding through the jungle on these majestic creatures must feel amazing. Seeing these intelligent animals drawing and painting stunning images must be impressive. Watching them playing ball games and performing tricks must emphasize their powerful appearance. But are these activities ethical elephant experiences?
Elephants are wild animals. Considering what it takes to make wild animals show specific behaviors on demand, elephant rides and elephant shows are not ethical elephant tourism.
Crushing training: What elephants go through before they can be ridden or perform tricks
“Training” might not sound harmful at first as humans also train other animals. When taking a closer look at the applied practices, though, we can understand that training a domestic or a wild animal requires different techniques. The training of an elephant is called “Phajaan” in Thai or “crush” because the spirit of the elephants gets crushed and broken during this process.
Elephants live in the wild in matriarchal herds and walk many kilometres every day. Young elephants stay usually together with their families for several years. By separating the animals at a very young age from their mothers and keeping them in small cages, breaking their spirit becomes much easier. In those cages, the elephants are beaten and mistreated with nails, chains, knives and other instruments of torture. They also often suffer from sleep, food and water deprivation. This process mostly lasts several days until the elephant gives up, his spirit broken.
Elephants also face abuse before they can perform tricks in shows, paint pictures, play games, or let tourists ride on their back. At unethical elephant camps, the mahout or the trainer is always on the elephant’s side with a sharp and painful bullhook in his hand. The tool reminds the elephant about the torments he suffered. One says that an elephant never forgets and scared of the consequences, the animal will perform.
Heartbreaking life: What elephants suffer each day at unethical elephant camps
In addition to the obvious physical harm of the bullhook and other utensils, riding elephants has long-term effects on their health. It’s hard to imagine, but the physique of an elephant is not suitable for riding – just as zebras.
Carrying people over and over the whole day together with the weight of the chair fixed on their back can cause long-term physical harm to their spine and make them suffer even more.
How to interact with elephants ethically
In the past few years, more and more sanctuaries started to rescue abused elephants and to offer them a new home. A home that is the closest as possible to their natural environment and a home where humans treat them with the greatest respect. Always having the well-being of these majestic creatures in mind, guests learn about the individual stories of the elephants and can interact with them by feeding, observing or bathing them.
Riding elephants and watching elephant shows are therefore not the best things to do in Thailand. Ethical elephant sanctuaries are the real best choices for not only you, but also for the elephants.
We at TakeMeTour care about all different animals. That’s why our ethical principles include the well-being of all wild and domestic animals, living on the land or in the sea. We therefore made the choice to offer only ethical elephant experiences and not to offer any tours or tickets supporting unethical experiences with animals.
Now it’s up to you to make your choice – we already made ours.
Traveler Testimonials for Ethical Elephant Experiences at TakeMeTour
Ethical Elephant Experience by Local Expert Naphat P.
Perfect day trip
Thank you for such a nice experience. The day was perfect planed and Sunshine, our guide, was so lovely. The elephant park is a really animal-friendly park and the owner gave us a lot of informations.
– Reviewed by Jonas A. from Germany
Ethical Elephant Experience by Local Expert Chanchai E.
THIS WAS AMAZING!!
Chanchai O. picked us up from the hotel in a nice clean car and he was very knowledgeable and helpful all the way out to the site. His passion for the elephants and their well being showed the minute we got there. He didn’t feel like a guide, he felt like family and we were well taken care of. I would recommend him to anyone wanting to visit this sanctuary and the staff and handlers were absolutely amazing and warm. they truly cared for these animals and you could tell by how often they tried to get the elephant mosquitos off of them and how often they said its time to feed them. What an amazing day trip…I would sing praises forever to this place. Thank you Take me Tour for this experience.
– Reviewed by Hollis M. from United States
Ethical Elephant Experience by Local Expert Witthaya P.
An amazing experience
We had a great time at the sanctuary. The elephants are treated with care and love. We fed them, wash them and look them play. Is very nice to see people trying to make a difference rescuing these animals from the horrible conditions that they’ve been putting through. I hope more people support places like this one and stop consuming activities where animals are mistreated. Alex our tour guide was super cool and friendly.
– Reviewed by Sebastian I. from Argentina
Mind-blowing connection, awesome!
This was one of the most special experiences of my life. Being able to get so close to elephants in their natural habitat, and to touch them, feed them and play with them, was simply amazing. The trust these formerly abused animals gave us was truly humbling. It was so wonderful to feel the connection with these gentle giants. To see them roaming free in their natural habitat, and the obvious love their handlers and the whole staff have for them, lifts your spirit. The staff are simply amazing – friendly, playful and incredibly sweet, and the natural beauty of the sanctuary is a joy to behold. I was particularly impressed by the owner, Mr Pop, who saved all of these animals, all at his personal cost, often requiring great sacrifices. His love for the elephants is deeply touching. I hope that other elephant camps will start following his lead and see that there is no need for hurting these wonderful animals in order to entertain people.
– Reviewed by Debbie T. from South Africa