Fourteen overworked elephants at Cambodia´s Angkor Wat can now breathe a sigh of relief. The widely popular tourist site, which receives millions of tourists a year, will no longer force their elephants to haul around tourists for hours on end. By next year, the Angkor Elephant Group Committee will retire their pachyderms and they will be sent to a conservation center where they will be able to spend the rest of their lives in an environment that is as natural as possible.
The plan has been welcomed by elephant conservationist and animal lovers around the world. Every day, elephants are used and abused for the tourist industry, used for rides and Instagram moments, overworked and poorly cared for.
Sometimes these elephants die from exhaustion and yet, many countries continue to allow elephant rides as a valid form of tourist entertainment. One such country is India where more than a hundred elephants lug paying customers up a steep hill to the famous Amber Fort in Jaipur.
Like the Angkor elephants, these animals are overworked, treated inhumanely and suffer from serious health issues from their constant labor. Whether an individual elephant suffers from infections to back issues they still work day in and day out, making money for their handler while they suffer in silence. Indian authorities must recognize that elephant rides are cruel and ban them today.
The only way to teach wild elephants to paint, play instruments, roll logs, and carry people on their back is by torturing them into submission using bullhooks and other cruel methods. Exploiting elephants for entertainment and profit is just plain wrong. There are so many cruelty-free ways to enjoy the Amber Fort and the rest of India, why allow cruelty to be a part of a tourist's experience? Please sign the petition and ask the Government of Rajasthan and the rest of India to ban elephant rides once and for all.