Elephant tourism is currently one of the most profitable industries in southeast Asia. Tourists pay to get up close and ride an elephant through a village or watch elephants perform tricks, thinking they are getting a “real” experience. What they don’t know, however, is that the behavior these elephants display is anything but real. In order to perform these tasks, these beautiful creatures have to go through atrocious abuse. This horrific process even has a name, “Phajaan.” This name references the crushing of the elephants’ spirit as a baby so they will learn to obey commands from humans and constantly operate out of fear.

Over half of Thailand’s elephants are currently in captivity, living this horrendous life. Thankfully, one incredible Thai woman, Lek Chailert, is taking a stand against this cruelty – and she has created her own elephant sanctuary, Elephant Nature Park. Running off a successful volunteer program, more and more people are spreading the word about the truth behind elephant tourism and helping rescue these beautiful, innocent animals.

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To learn more about Elephant Nature Park and how you can help captive elephants, click here.