There is an urgent need for tourist education and regulation of wildlife tourist attractions worldwide.
There is an urgent need for tourist education and regulation of wildlife tourist attractions worldwide.

Asia's Elephant Tourism Rife With Cruelty

Asia's Elephant Tourism Rife With Cruelty

Businesses in Asia have often justified the so-called elephant tourism by arguing that the industry benefits elephants and helps safeguard this endangered animal. But new research shows that elephant tourism is actually rife with cruelty.
The survey, conducted by internationally recognized animal welfare group World Animal Protection, found that three out of every four elephants recorded at elephant tourism sites across Asia lived in "harsh” conditions, Care2.com reported.
In total, 80% of the 3,000 elephants examined at entertainment sites in Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand endured squalid living conditions. Many were also used to provide rides for tourists, forced to wear poorly-fitting steel or wooden saddles and tied to very short chains when not in use.
Jan Schmidt-Burbach, veterinary adviser at World Animal Protection, said there is an urgent need for tourist education and regulation of wildlife tourist attractions worldwide.
"Venues that offer tourists a chance to watch elephants in genuine sanctuaries are beacons of hope that can encourage the urgently-needed shift in the captive elephant tourism industry," he said. A major issue for elephant tourism is that host countries often bill the industry as a force for conservation. The Asian elephant is under threat, with as few as 50,000 wild elephants remaining across the entirety of Asia—due in large part to habitat loss and poaching.
But, in reality, the elephant entertainment industry often takes baby elephants from the wild and puts them through stressful training—known to outsiders as “the crush”. In order to ensure that the massive animals can be controlled when they are older, the process usually entails developing the elephants’ fear responses and keeping them heavily tied up.
In fact, 77% of the captive elephants recorded in this research spend their days and nights chained up whenever they weren’t being used for shows or tourist rides. They were also forced to endure highly solitary conditions which, for social beings like elephants, goes against their most basic needs.
The research revealed that, despite what many elephant tourism businesses claim, few elephants had access to the varied diet they need to remain healthy in captivity. And few had access to proper veterinary care. While animal tourism businesses may insist that it is in their best interest to ensure that their elephants are well cared for, the reality is that this simply isn’t the case.


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