Don't be fooled by the glossy brochures and fancy websites with photos of smiling tourists interacting with "happy" elephants. Those images are a fantasy that elephant experience tourism providers want you to believe. Behind the pachyderms' apparent jovial expression hides the actual truth about elephant-focused holidays in Asia.
What these advertisements don't tell you is that the elephants aren't doing these things because they want to, they are doing them because they have no choice - because they know they will be hurt if they don't.
Sign to encourage the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to make it illegal for British holiday providers to offer unethical elephant-focused tourist experiences.
No wild elephant would exhibit the behaviors one witnesses in these ridiculous exhibitions. To make them perform for the crowds, trainers use cruel techniques to ensure the animals will do whatever their captors wish. They often start off with the youngest calves, separating them from their mothers and implementing a training process known as "phajaan," (the crush). During phajaan, handlers beat the animal into submission. The process leaves them so traumatized that they will do anything their handler says.
But that isn't where the torture ends. For the rest of their lives, they are held in appalling conditions with little room to roam. They are overworked, often forced to interact with humans for hours on end giving rides and doing tricks. During this time, they are poked and prodded with hooks and spikes to make them "behave."
Currently, there are still some British holiday providers that sell these unethical experiences to unsuspecting tourists. They do so despite knowing that they are cruel, and despite the British Travel Association (ABTA) having ruled these experiences unacceptable. The ABTA's objection to the practice doesn't ban it, but rather discourages vendors from selling them -and that hasn't happened yet.
Luckily, International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith and Defra recently announced that they are considering a plan that would make it illegal for any British holiday provider to sell such experiences. This law would be a significant turning point in helping the Asian elephant and could serve as an example for other countries wishing to pass similar laws. We must support it.
Please sign the petition and tell International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith and Defra to follow through with this important legislation and ban the sale of elephant-focused tourist experiences.