This petition is a demand for an apology from the creators of the reality television show The Amazing Race, for promoting elephant riding on their April 24, 2019 episode. In addition, we want a statement from them on live television, during Prime Time, educating the public about the torture that elephants suffer behind the scenes to turn them into trekking elephants. We want them to send a message of compassion and ethical tourism.
At a time when more and more travelers and tour operators are starting to question the ethics of riding elephants, as well as the methods used to train them, it is simply horrific and unacceptable that The Amazing Race decided to portray it in a fun and entertaining manner. There is probably an entire new group of prospective travelers that have just added "riding an elephant" on their bucket list after watching this episode which took the contestants to Laos. Here they were required to ride an elephant through a body of water to receive their next clue. The use of these elephants as transport is nothing short of elephant abuse for human entertainment and profit.
It is ironic that the host of the show, Phil Keoghan, referred to Laos as "the land of a million elephants" since sadly this couldn't be further from the truth. As of 2016 there were only about 400-600 wild elephants remaining. The audience was informed that the elephants used on this episode were from the Elephant Conservation Center which is a safe haven and also has a breeding program for elephants.
According to Mr. Keoghan no whipping or kicking occurs there, only loud commands. What the audience isn't told is that the beating and torture already occurred when the elephants were young and taken away from their mothers too soon in their development. The fact is this: Every single captive elephant across the world has been put through "the crush box" also know as "phajann." This is where the elephant is restrained and beaten with bullhooks, nails and chains repeatedly for 24 hours. If her spirit is not crushed yet, she is beaten for another 24 hours and then again and again until the love of mother is replaced with the fear of man and the bullhook. The elephants used in The Amazing Race all experienced this. And that is what the show is supporting because if you choose to ride an elephant that is what she has endured.
The facts are clear: There are currently approximately 45,000 Asian elephants left and one third are in captivity. They are an endangered species who are on the path to extinction if things don't change immediately. Elephants are intelligent, self aware, empathic and a keystone species. They are the architects of the earth and eco systems will collapse without them. Yet humans continue to exploit them without any respect or care for them and their right to share the planet in freedom with their families.
In the words of world renowned Asian elephant conservationist Lek Chailert, who has rescued over 200 elephants in 20 years from all over Southeast Asia and is the founder of Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, "They are the color of the planet. They are beautiful. If we want to protect them we have to do it right now."
Please sign this petition and let the creators of The Amazing Race know that we will not accept their support of abusing elephants. And please take the pledge to never ride an elephant and to spread the word. Thank you.