People everywhere are fascinated with the majesty of elephants and their gigantic stature.
These amazing creatures measure at up to 13ft in height, with some weighing in at a whopping 14,000lbs (7 tons).
That’s a lot of elephant…. and a lot of dough for locals who are making a killing off of tourists’ obsession with elephants.
You see, a booming business trade is taking place in various parts of Asia where elephants are beaten (both publicly and privately) and forced to put on shows for millions of tourists, all for money.
Even more shady, some of these businesses that are attempting to appeal to animal lovers are hiding the abuse by disguising their business as a “sanctuary” for elephants.
The Ugly Truth
Elephant trainers know they have no power to control a grown elephant unless they are groomed from a young age to withstand abuse.
If an elephant truly rebelled, they’d crush any man.
So, from the time they are babies, these elephants are taken away from their mothers and abused.
These tiny creatures endure everything from starvation to actually being prodded and beaten with everything under the sun.
Then, because of the abuse, they forget their own strength and the “taming” of these elephants causes them to give up their true power and do whatever their trainers ask of them, without hesitation.
Tourists Are Clueless
Many animal-conscious travelers realize riding an elephant is abusive – so they instead opt for an “animal friendly” experience where they are told they can interact with the elephants in their natural state…
…except it’s all a hoax.
These “cruelty free” places offer the chance to bathe elephants, and even watch an elephant paint (and of course purchase the painting for a hefty fee after, in addition to charging a steep entry fee to begin with).
But animal advocates point out that some of these activities are stressful for the elephant, in addition to the fact it’s unknown what actually happens to these animals once tourists leave.
My Experience In India
Five years ago I was in India and a friend of a friend told me I had the chance to ride an elephant, for free!
Well at the time, I thought “When in Rome, right?”.
I mean, when else would I have the chance to ride an elephant?
And how cool would that be!
So a brightly painted gigantic elephant approaches me, and had a little caddy strapped to its back.
Getting on it was terrifying enough.
Those things are huge.
But then, as I rode the elephant, I became even more disturbed as the man who was directing the elephant began beating it with a whip and yelling at it!
I had no idea what he was actually saying… but I bet ya it wasn’t nice words.
Looking back, I was clueless that elephants were so grossly abused – and had I known then what I know now, I would have never gotten on that elephant.
And I’m not some major animal rights activist either…but there’s still a clear line between right and wrong.
The truth is, abusing an animal just so a tourist can take pleasure in a “ride” is not cool.
So should you find yourself overseas with the opportunity to ride an elephant, or even partake in some of the so-called “sanctuary” experiences like feeding or bathing an elephant – be warned.
It might be best to avoid elephant tourism all together.
Self-righteous liberals often pride themselves on selecting “cruel-free places” for animal activities, but then venture out on safaris where these same elephants are trapped just so they can get an Instagram photo.
If you do choose to ride an elephant (like I mistakenly did) or do something whacky like watch an elephant paint a photo with its trunk – don’t kid yourself – the chances they’ve been abused in the past are certain – and the likelihood they are still being abused is high.
Should you still choose to partake, at least now you know what you are signing up for.
What are your thoughts on the lucrative elephant tourism business?
Do you agree it’s hypocritical to claim to “care about animals,” yet participate in this business?
Or, do you think it’s no big deal at all?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with all your friends!