Elephant rides are one of the most sought after experiences when traveling to countries like Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. But elephant rides are extremely cruel and should be avoided at all costs.
Trekking elephants suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically. Young elephants are put through a brutal process called phajaan, as seen in the picture above, where they are tortured for days on end to break their spirit. Many times baby elephants are ripped away from their mothers and put through phajaan to be used in the tourism industry, and when they are old enough, they are used for trekking. This causes a lifetime of PTSD. Elephants work long hours with little food or water. They are controlled by a sharp bull hook which many times causes painful wounds. If a howdah or seat is used, the ropes which keep them in place can tear their sensitive skin causing even more painful wounds. When elephants are not giving rides, they are kept chained. An elephant's back is not meant to carry heavy weight. Their vertebrae stick up instead of laying flat causing back pain, arthritis, and foot problems. Elephants in the trekking industry have shortened lifespans. Riding an elephant can also be dangerous for its riders. Elephants have been known to snap or literally drop dead putting riders at risk of injury or even death.
We are asking TripAdvisor, the largest travel agency in the world, to stop promoting elephant trekking and opt for cruelty free adventures that do not involve the exploitation of animals.