Today is World Elephant Day, and we thought this was a good time to tell you why, even though there were plenty of opportunities, we didn't ride elephants on our trip around the world.
People have been riding elephants for hundreds of years. However, Jackie and I have found some research that proves that riding these social creatures can hurt them in the inside and outside.
When the elephants are still really young, they are taken from their mothers. Sadly they won’t ever see their mothers again. More and more people are doing this every year, and smuggling the elephants for riding and torturing for the tourists.
Once the young, scared elephants have been taken, they are kept in small spaces like pits and cages with barely any room to move. They are constantly beaten for a long time with bamboo sticks, bull hooks, and cattle prods. They are starved and don’t get a lot of sleep and are abused mentally and physically.
Nearly any elephant you see performing or carrying tourists on its back has been through this process. Just think the next time you are about to go on an elephant's back.
Although elephants are big, riding them can hurt their backs. The spine of an elephant was never meant to take the weight of carrying people all day—especially when they are forced to do it constantly every single day with nowhere near enough time time to rest or even eat (like the elephants we saw at the Amer Fort in India).
And they are often forced to carry heavy wooden saddles strapped to their backs which can cause lots of skin and tissue damage. Imagine if you were forced to carry heavy loads on your back all day, every day.
We help these elephants by simply not riding them. If your family is in Southeast Asia or anywhere there is elephant riding, tell them to stop elephant abuse, and the companies will go out of business and elephants will live in the wild again.
If you want to Interact with elephants and find yourself in Northern Thailand, you can visit the Elephant Nature Park or the Ran-Tong Elephant Center (like we did), two places that treat elephants nicely and don’t abuse them or hurt them in any way. There are many ways to interact with elephants without riding or hurting them.
Please listen to this post, and If you see a elephant riding business, don’t go even if it would be a great experience. We travelers have to make decisions. Elephants don’t deserve a bad life.