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Each year, millions of tourists flock to Thailand in the hopes of interacting with Asian elephants. With popular elephant encounter options ranging from taking selfies with calves to riding on a pachyderm through the jungle, travelers are lead to believe that these excursions are normal and – worst of all –acceptable. Simply put, the facade covering up the cruelties of Thailand’s elephant trade is one that must be destroyed in order to protect the endangered Asian elephant.

In the documentary, An Elephant Never Forgetscomedian Joe Keogh illustrates the uncomfortable – but much needed – truth behind the elephant trade. Following the footsteps of British tourists in Thailand as they encounter Asian elephants, the documentary seeks to expose what occurs during training routines. Viewers are given the opportunity to view the living and working conditions of captive elephants. Check it out…

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Most tourists are unaware of the abuse that elephants face when placed in captivity. After all, who really knows what an elephant is feeling … especially when they “wag” their tails like happy dogs and wiggle their ears.

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Mud, dust, and dirt act as makeshift sunscreens for elephant skin. Without this protective layer of sunscreen, elephants are prone to sunburns and blisters – especially when they spend long days out in the sun with little rest or time in the shade.

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

When serving for the elephant trekking industry, Asian elephants are not offered the chance to bathe themselves in their mud sunscreen. Elephants are also expected to go long periods of time without eating so that they can carry larger quantities of customers during the day. It must be excruciating to carry around multiple people with a hot sunburn and an empty tummy…

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Mahouts are elephant trainers who are considered to hold the “closest” relationships with calves. This, however, doesn’t say much about the abuse inflicted upon Asian elephants. Mahouts use elephants for profit in elephant trekking tours, painting shows, and street begging.

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Elephants form close relationships with other family members – especially the bond between an elephant mother and her calf. Calves will stay with their mothers for around 16 years, but the elephant tourism business shatters this bond at the ripe age of six months.

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Mahouts are responsible for training elephants for the sake of profit. In their eyes, the easiest way to train the pachyderms is to beat them into submission. The bull hook (a sharp metal hook attached to a long pole used to poke into animal flesh) is the popular weapon of choice in this industry as painful strikes can deter any elephant from “misbehaving.” These sharp tools are inserted into the delicate ear tissue and allow the mahout to force elephants to “play” in the ocean, and perform other unnatural, painful feats.

Secrets Behind Thailand's Elephant Tourism

Elephants are incredibly social, and prefer the company of several other individuals to interact with. In Thailand’s tourism industry, elephants are chained to gates or concrete floors and are unable to reach their fellow prison-mates. Left to lead a life in pain, fear, and solitude all for the purpose of entertaining unassuming customers.

Cruelty-Free Ways to Enjoy Elephants

For all of you pachyderm lovers who would still like the opportunity to view elephants WITHOUT the abuse, have no fear! There are alternatives to Thailand’s elephant tours. Several sanctuaries exist worldwide that specialize in elephant care (ie. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary and the Surin Project). Just remember to do your research on prospective facilities and sanctuaries, and be sure to follow the “Five Freedoms” to ensure a healthy, pain-free elephant experience.

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0 comments on “The Shocking Secrets Behind Thailand’s Elephant Tourism Industry (VIDEO)”

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Prasit Puttajak
3 Years Ago

I\'m an elephant trainer instructor. I work with elephant more than 10 years in tourism field.

I disagree with this opinion.
From statistic in 2009, Domesticated elephant have more than 2000 elephants in Thailand.
And most of elephant work in tourism industry. The words you spread will save a few sanctuary that you supported but in another way that mean the rest of elephants will be poverty and more than 3000 people lose thier job.

I\'m not afraid if someday i lose my job, even i will missing many of elephants that i used to work with.
For living, i think not too difficult to find a new job. But why don\'t you think of other elephants that will be no job, no food and nobody take care of them.

You don\'t have to believe me, i\'m nobody, but please think with your own common sense by the general facts that you might known and forget to think about.
- Grown up asian elephants eat minimum 200 kg. of food per elephants per day or about 10% of thier weight.
- Domesticate elephants in Thailand, in 2009 record by government is about 2000 elephants. and i think increasing slightly for recent years.
- Recents sanctuary or called themself elephants sanctuary, that\'s run by donation, for all over Thailand now maintain not more than 10% of elephants we have.
- That\'s mean the 1800 elephants now maintaining by others, my work, which let elephants work, which animal lovers called us evil.
- By the 2009 record, wild elephant have about the same amount 2000 but slightly decreasing because of not enough foods in the national park.
- By above facts, 1800 elephants have to work for thier own foods to survive and this becoming the world-wild drama. if you still not agree with me to let elephants work, what is your suggest solutions? where the foods of elephants come from? Do you really think just the donation money can maintain all 1800 elephants?
- Why we don\'t just let the domesticated elephants to be free in the wild? The first reason is a food. Recently, our national park nowaday is decreasing, when forest gone, the wildlife food gone as well. Do you still want them to be free and straving in the wild?

Another reason is about the feeling of elephant owner, The elephants for them is a member of family. they grow up together. In the past, age of imperialism, the western came here and start trading teak wood. peoples here at that time use elephant to tranport the wood, they work together generation by generation untill now for more than 200 years. you might think the domesticated elephant now came from the wild, yes thier grand grand elephant parents came from the wild but not the recent domesticated elephant. Nowaday, after the idea of rehabited elephants to be free in the wild is dead-end, Working in Tourism Industry is the answer and the source of foods of all domesticated elephant. We work together again as in the past, they both work for living together. The money that they have got from work most paid to be elephant foods and have a few left for owner to survive. Some of elephants owner are rich, but most of them who is a Karen hilltribe are not. Even now the price of elephants is very high about 1-2 million baht but they not sell thier elephant and try to keeping elephant with thier family because the feeling that thier elephants is apart of their family. Ten years of my work, i saw a lot of elephant owners who is not rich at all, the things they did when they can\'t maintain their elephant and thier own survive is to join the mass tourism elephant camp that run by the rich man, that they not really want, lower paid than standard, because the mass sell price is cheap, but they have to work for years to survive. they cannot run small business by thier own because thier are no money and lack of business skill, so they have to work year by year to keep thier elephants to thier family.And to sell thier elephant is always their last choice, even there are the easier way, to run out of the poverty.

From all above, I\'m not expect you to change your vision that saw us as a bad guy to be a good guy, all i need is, you read my words and re-think about it with no bias, not for us the human who used elephants, but for the rest of the working elephant.

You will not believe me, because It\'s againt all believe that you ever heard and thought, But let your common sense decide.
How one people could such being an evil like that? and what is truely purpose to be evil?
Do you really think we so greedy for money?

I work with only ten years to let elephant working. But many of elephant trainers, the evil guys who let elephant work, they sacrified thier life to live with and take care of elephants, Yes, i\'m also angry and sad as well, when the peoples judging us, especially a poor guy like them, as an evil. But what can we do? we just a small peoples who try to fight the poverty for both human and elephant in reallity.

All i can do is to speak out here for the peoples you thought they are evil. even my English is not really well, and make you confused, please forgive me.but i have to do, because most of them cannot communicate English as i can, they are low educated and poor. So i think this all the things i could do for them.

30 May 2015

Cruelty is cruelty, no matter how you try to dress it up. Don\'t know how some of these people sleep at night.................................

23 Jun 2015

I wrote an article on my blog about this following a trip to Krabi, Thailand. I was really upset by what I saw and how the elephants were treated. (http://travel.lauramartin.co.nz/index.php/2015/06/23/thailands-elephants-why-tourists-should-think-twice/)

Sarah Burger
3 Years Ago

Hi there! It is good to read that people think about these things!
About 6 months ago i was in Thailand doing volunteer work at the Elephant Nature Park. This is a park where elephants go when they are old and sick and abused. The Surin project is i think one of the projects that the Save Elephant Foundation does. I think it is very important that people know about this and it is terrible that it is happening! I would like to advice people to go or to write something about the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai because it is the best place to go to help, learn and see how bad this tourism is. I am studying tourism in the hope that i can specialize in sustainable tourism and get this bad tourism out of the world! I love this website because people actually care here!

Ivan Gort
4 Years Ago

This type of reporting truly upsets me!! It is out of date and sloppy reporting. The video was made in 2009 and since this video came out major laws and changes have occurred by the Thai Government. Yes there are still some areas where this type of abuse occurs but it only in a very small area and not rampant. When caught these people face severe punishment. Elephants are not treated as the video would imply nation wide. Many new sanctions and rules have been put in place. you will not find elephants waking down the streets anymore. If they are the man-hoot was give specific permission to do so. Very bad article which is out of date and sends the wrong message. If you don\'t like elephants carrying people you better stop horse riding, camels, donkeys, mules too. They are all raised for the same reason. Beasts of burden.

17 May 2015

Could not agree less, Thailand totally abuses elephants

30 May 2015

Beasts of burden, hmmmm................so we can we cruel to them?!! I don\'t think so.

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