In Thailand, Elephants are a significant aspect of culture and are a popular tourist attraction. The training methods inflicted upon these gentle giants is a tragic example of how little these magnificent creatures are respected. A practice called “Phajaan” is used on these animals where a baby elephant’s spirit is broken so it will be submissive to humans for the rest of its life. The elephant is tied up in a confined pen and beaten mercilessly with sharp instruments. This barbaric practice is used when an elephant is around four years old and usually the calf is never reunited with its mother. Even if they do meet again, the mother does not recognize its now despondent and heartbroken baby.
The Majority of Thailand’s Elephants are captive and have endured this horrific treatment. These elephants give rides to tourists, perform, or even beg on the streets for sympathetic tourists to pay to feed them. Elephants are highly emotional animals, in fact they share many of our own feelings. Their moods are visible through their expressions such as sunken eyes and drooping ears. They form close- knit bonds with their herds and if a family member dies they will actually cover the body with leaves and are known to revisit the site. In Thai culture elephants are iconic symbols of power and strength. In Buddhism a white elephant represents the mental strength achieved after taming the mind.
It is tragic to know that Thailand’s symbol for strength is being broken and heartlessly tortured. Tourists must be more aware of the corrupt industry they are feeding when they travel to Thailand, this cruel practice should not be supported by anyone. In Chiang Mai there is an elephant nature park which is a sanctuary for sick or injured elephants and tourists can visit this place and donate money to a good cause. Elephants respond to gentle training methods and can form close bonds with humans.
Thailand’s government must implement laws to ban the “breaking their spirit” training method and release the captive elephants to a sanctuary where they can find peace. Elephants have walked this earth far longer than humans. These ancient and empathetic animals embody our own complex emotions and the many gentle spirits broken are filling the world with sorrow.
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5,000 signatures - 28/04/14 - 20:30 GMT
7,000 signatures - To be achieved...
To the Government of Thailand,
We urge you to stop this horrific practice immediately, as your country is being held back by its vile reputation for torturing animals for profit.
People are and will stop paying to ride a despondent elephant as people are eventually enlightened of the cruelty which the very elephant they ride is put through.
Read the comments of myself and others, and realise the effect this practice has on tourism in your country.