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Riding an elephant should always be avoided. The abuse an elephant must undergo in order to be ridden is horrific. Take an elephant ride off your bucket list. The training is called Phajaan (or elephant crush) and is a brutal process in which a young elephant’s spirit is broken through beating, stabbing, starvation, sleep deprivation, being tied down and restricting movement of their very sensitive trunk. The beatings and abuse continue until the elephants’s spirit is crushed. Once the elephant‘s spirit is broken, it is then trained to allow tourists to ride on his/her back.
Although the elephant is the largest land mammal, its spine cannot support the weight of people and doing this all day long can lead to severe long term pain and spinal damage. Elephant‘s foot ailments will also become a long term issue from “trekking”. Left untreated these problems can lead to serious long term health issues and even death. Generally, these animals are kept solitary and on chains when not giving rides, causing even more psychological problems.
An elephant performing an act that is not done in the wild, such as standing on its head, spinning hoops, wearing tutus, etc. is not natural behavior and you should ask yourself why. These elephants have been trained using fear, dominance and most likely a bullhook. Circus elephants have been traumatized and physically abused. Attending and supporting these venues causes demand, leading to more elephants being captured from the wild and more babies born in captivity….and more abuse.
Generally elephants are kept in enclosures much too small and usually by themselves. Many zoos use negative reinforcement to get the elephant to obey commands. The elephants don’t have enough stimuli and resort to stereotypic behavior, such as swaying back and forth. An elephants swinging its head side to side is exhibiting extreme stress. Zoos that have a breeding program want babies because they bring in more money. The result of this for elephants, can be forced breeding, which is horrific and sometimes life threatening for a female elephant.
These elephants have been trained to paint. If you see an elephant painting, look for the person holding a hidden nail or sharp object while the elephant paints. The trainers are very good at hiding small sharp objects and using them liberally to control the elephant by stabbing them in their very sensitive ears.
An average of 96 elephants are killed everyday for their tusks. At this rate, elephants could be extinct within the next 20 years.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Look for ethical venues and look at the pictures on the website. If you see ropes, chains, bullhooks, people hanging on the elephants tusks, riding elephants, bathing elephants or forcing an elephant to listen to a piano in the jungle don’t support them. Without support and money they will no longer exist. These are not ethical projects. This is only an example of what to look for, do your due diligence.
DO see an animal, wild and in its natural setting.
DO spread the word about the abuse elephants endure for 15 minutes of interaction. These elephants don’t go home after vacation. This is their life.
DO donate, and/or volunteer at projects that do NOT use bullhooks, don’t have elephants perform and don’t have a breeding program for captive elephants. You will see baby elephants at ethical sanctuaries occasionally, this is because the mother elephant was rescued while pregnant. These projects treat elephants ethically and need your support. It is VERY expensive to feed an elephant and they need your support.
DO SPEND YOUR TOURIST DOLLARS WISELY .
Love and Bananas. http://loveandbananas.com
Gods in Shackles https://www.godsinshackles.com
Black Fish https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2545118
National Geographic Vanishing Giants https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2011355
The Urban Elephant, Shirley's Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0Z_vRYQ_Sg
Unbound Project, Lek Chailert https://unboundproject.org/lek-chailert
ENP dogs https://youtu.be/gaRio8vuNtE
Last Chain on Billie https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/carol-bradley/last-chain-on-billie
Forever Wild, Forever Home https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56173060-forever-wild-forever-home
Life and Elephants, An African Love Story. https://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm/ezine_preview_number/7349/love-life-and-elephants
The Lady and Her Tiger https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/858658.The_Lady_and_Her_Tiger
The Elephant Whisperer. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6375561-the-elephant-whisperer
Cher and the Loneliest Elephant (trailer): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr_lvhrH8NA