The national symbol of Thailand is the iconic elephant. In a painfully symbolic series of events, COVID-19, the disease that is threatening Thailand and every other nation worldwide, is also threatening the country's symbol. Domestic elephants are a huge part of the tourism industry in Thailand. But with travel restricted and self-isolation protocols firmly established, elephant parks and other elephant-centered tourist attractions are seeing a huge drop in attendance. Out of work, these domestic elephants are vulnerable to the old abuses they once suffered in Thailand.Please sign the petition and ask that Thailand's government allocate funds for the care of these elephants for the duration of this pandemic!
In Thailand's not-so-distant past, elephants were often exploited, placed in compromising and often illegal positions in order to turn a profit. Many were put to work for illegal loggers, performing the hard labor of clearing forests. Others were dragged through city streets by their owners who would then beg for money, hopeful that the sight of the magnificent creatures would bolster their efforts
. Thailand worked hard to put policies in place to give domesticated elephants better lives, and these practices have all but vanished. But now, in the midst of a global pandemic, all that progress is at risk of unraveling!
While parks and tourist attractions where animals are the main attraction can lead to improper care or even abuse, they provide shelter, food, and care for the elephants that work there. But since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, an estimated 1,000 elephants, roughly 25% of Thailand's domesticated elephants, are out of work either due to park shutdowns or lack of visitors bringing in profits. It takes about $40 a day to feed an elephant, which is over three times the minimum daily income in Thailand.
Now, many elephant owners have no way to provide for these animals. Many animal welfare advocates fear that they will be forced to go back to the old ways of using elephants for profit. These elephants need the government's help. Please sign the petition and demand funding for the duration of this pandemic to keep these elephants safe, happy, and healthy!