Each year, millions of tourists flock to Thailand in the hopes of interacting with Asian elephants. Popular tourist encounters include everything from taking selfies with calves to riding on an elephant in the jungle. Tragically, these “entertaining” endeavors often lead tourists to believe that these excursions are normal and somehow acceptable. Most tourists are unaware of the abuse elephants face when in captivity but considering how endangered Asian elephants are, the facade needs to end now. Between poaching, the tourism industry, and habitat loss, both African and Asian elephants are in danger of becoming extinct within our lifetimes.
According to the National Geographic, the median lifespan of a zoo-born female is just 17 years with Asian elephants living up to 19 years in captivity and 42 in the wild. If that’s not telling, we don’t know what is – but it comes as little surprise as wild elephants form close relationships with other family members. 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. The fulfilling life these animals lead in the wild makes any captive scenario seem unbearable.
Thankfully, there are many organizations working to protect and conserve Asian elephants. One of them, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, is the first and only true elephant sanctuary in Southern Thailand that “offer[s] a retirement home for sick, injured, tired, or old elephants who have previously worked hard for tourism entertainment or in the logging industry.”
Just recently, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary rescued, Sri Nuan, an elephant in her mid-forties who had been working in the trekking industry in Phuket for over ten years. Look at this gorgeous gal!
Sri Nuan’s days of carrying tourists are behind her and now she will live out her life how she should – in peace.
Sri Nuan is slowly being introduced to the sanctuary. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary reports that “Wherever she wanders, whether there is thick wet mud or a light dust, she has not stopped throwing her trunk in the air, layering her back and her body with dirt – a luxury she has most likely been unable to do for many many years.”
Sri Nuan is blind in her right eye but has full vision in her left eye. To acclimate to her new home, Sri Nuan is kept separate from the other elephants but in her night shelter, she is able to get to know her new friends with a dividing fence. How sweet is the below photo?
Look at them touching trunks! The sanctuary says she has already rumbled on a few occasions, a way that elephants communicate with each other. Sri Nuan has also let out little trumpets to the other elephants at the sanctuary.
Even though she was slightly hesitated to take her first steps into the water, Sri Nuan’s handler jumped in to reassure her and soon Sri Nuan was splashing around!
Thanks to the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Sri Nuan will enjoy many years chain free! Seeing how content Sri Nuan looks in her safe haven, it is incredibly clear this is how these beautiful creatures should live.
Please boycott these cruel tourist attractions and tell your friends and family to boycott them as well. Instead of supporting cruelty, support the wonderful efforts of the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. Visit their website for ways on how you can get involved to save elephants.
For simple ways you can get involved in helping captive elephants, click here.
Image source: Phuket Elephant Sanctuary/Facebook