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As the world finally wakes up to the cruelties behind the animal captivity industry, businesses seem to be taking note.

STA Travel, a U.K.-based tourism company, recently announced that it would stop all tour operations with elephant rides and stops at the Tiger Temple in Thailand, as well as any tours with stops at SeaWorld San Diego, and SeaWorld Orlando until further notice.

Now, another travel company, Intrepid Travel, based in Melbourne, Australia, has taken things a step further by becoming the first travel operator in the world to ban elephant rides!

The company decided to end all elephant rides and visits to captive elephant entertainment venues earlier this year after it reviewed a three-year research study conducted by the World Society of the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“Asian elephants are highly endangered, and tourism demand has led to venues where elephants are forced to do unnatural performances. The research concludes that this causes pain and suffering to the elephants, and that the tourism industry has added to the number of elephants being poached from the wild,” the WSPA reported in a press release.

Thankfully, Intrepid Travel agreed with the research conclusions and came to a few of their own.

“Our focus is on educating people, and teaching local communities about animal welfare and environmental conservation. While we once included elephant rides or entertainment venue visits, we’re now working with rehabilitation and sanctuary facilities. We hope that the increased patronage to commendable venues like this will help encourage others to lift their standards,” said Geoff Manchester, co-founder of Intrepid Travel.

Intrepid Travel is certainly attempting to make the world a better place for all as it also runs a nonprofit fund, The Intrepid Foundation, which has donated over $430 thousand AUD to animal and wildlife conservancy projects, such as Friends of the Asian Elephant in Thailand and Animal Care in Egypt, since its start in 2002.

The travel company has also taken a stand against captive marine mammal entertainment and, according to a blog post by Manchester, “Intrepid has always felt this is just wrong, and don’t include visitation to these type of marine parks on Intrepid trips.”

Right on, Intrepid – and thank you so much for standing up to captive elephant cruelty too! It’s truly wonderful to see such a successful travel company taking a refreshing and humane approach to tourism. Fingers crossed that other companies will follow suit!

Image source: Le Meridien Angkor/Flickr



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59 comments on “This Amazing Travel Company Is the First in the World to Ban Elephant Rides!”

Click to add comment
Peter Jones
2 Years Ago

I thought long and hard before posting a comment but thought it necessary that I did as decisions like this are not as cut and dry as one may think after reading the article at face value. As a tour operator we like wise had a decision to make on elephant rides. The decision to stop the rides would have been a simple one; as an alternative to Elephant treks we also offer our clients the choice of Elephant Sanctuary visits. We therefore could have stopped the treks altogether and we were so close to doing so.

This topic like many others will face us more and more as modern travellers and as we delve deeper we find that there are a lot of grey areas. What is true eco-tourism? Are the attractions / hotels that say they are green really as good as they portray themselves. What happened to carbon offsetting? And flying thousands of miles to spend a fortnight in an eco-resort built on a beautiful island but where does all the waste and sewage go. Most of us in the industry would have seen Simon Reeve when he visited the island of rubbish in the Maldives that sums this all up perfectly.

With this in mind our philosophy on elephant trekking is to tell our clients everything and let them make up their minds; to trek or not to trek. After spending time with the local tribe’s people we felt it was just as ethically wrong to take the much needed income that local minorities get from running elephant treks. An elephant is often shared amongst a few families and is sacred to them and is looked after extremely well indeed. How can you possibly say to these people that we will not support you if their animal is cared for and looked after properly. As the main issue here is of course the welfare of the animal.

The thing that not many people are aware of is that historically minorities were allowed to move around and often changed the position of their settlements depending on specific events. Due to this these people have less opportunities to make money and have therefore turned to their elephants to make extra income. If we stop this source of income we potentially make the situation worse. The minorities will then cut more of the virgin forest to make farms to feed themselves and we could also lose our minority tribes all together.

Saying this not all elephant rides are the same and of course many operations should be boycotted however we have gone through great lengths to make sure that we are supporting the areas that we take tourists to in the best ways possible.

To finish off as a tourist you have a choice to make. If you feel strongly that an elephant should not be ridden then fine – we respect that and we can show you the wonderful work that the elephant sanctuary we work with does. On the other hand if you want to ride an elephant then do the right thing. Do your research, ask questions about the welfare or treatment of the animals and check them carefully before riding them, you can look out for sores or signs of neglect and if you specifically find a particular operation not behaving ethically then make it public and warn visitors not to use this particular activity. But first, please make sure that you have correctly researched this before you effect the live hood of innocent and poor people.

As with all in life, there is Good and Bad. If we all start to easily generalise and condemn everything around us then what will be the point of travelling.


Reply
Peter Jones
2 Years Ago

I thought long and hard before posting a comment but thought it necessary that I did as decisions like this are not as cut and dry as one may think after reading the article at face value. As a tour operator we like wise had a decision to make on elephant rides. The decision to stop the rides would have been a simple one; as an alternative to Elephant treks we also offer our clients the choice of Elephant Sanctuary visits. We therefore could have stopped the treks altogether and we were so close to doing so.

This topic like many others will face us more and more as modern travellers and as we delve deeper we find that there are a lot of grey areas. What is true eco-tourism? Are the attractions / hotels that say they are green really as good as they portray themselves. What happened to carbon offsetting? And flying thousands of miles to spend a fortnight in an eco-resort built on a beautiful island but where does all the waste and sewage go. Most of us in the industry would have seen Simon Reeve when he visited the island of rubbish in the Maldives that sums this all up perfectly.

With this in mind our philosophy on elephant trekking is to tell our clients everything and let them make up their minds; to trek or not to trek. After spending time with the local tribe’s people we felt it was just as ethically wrong to take the much needed income that local minorities get from running elephant treks. An elephant is often shared amongst a few families and is sacred to them and is looked after extremely well indeed. How can you possibly say to these people that we will not support you if their animal is cared for and looked after properly. As the main issue here is of course the welfare of the animal.

The thing that not many people are aware of is that historically minorities were allowed to move around and often changed the position of their settlements depending on specific events. Due to this these people have less opportunities to make money and have therefore turned to their elephants to make extra income. If we stop this source of income we potentially make the situation worse. The minorities will then cut more of the virgin forest to make farms to feed themselves and we could also lose our minority tribes all together.

Saying this not all elephant rides are the same and of course many operations should be boycotted however we have gone through great lengths to make sure that we are supporting the areas that we take tourists to in the best ways possible.

To finish off as a tourist you have a choice to make. If you feel strongly that an elephant should not be ridden then fine – we respect that and we can show you the wonderful work that the elephant sanctuary we work with does. On the other hand if you want to ride an elephant then do the right thing. Do your research, ask questions about the welfare or treatment of the animals and check them carefully before riding them, you can look out for sores or signs of neglect and if you specifically find a particular operation not behaving ethically then make it public and warn visitors not to use this particular activity. But first, please make sure that you have correctly researched this before you effect the live hood of innocent and poor people.

As with all in life, there is Good and Bad. If we all start to easily generalise and condemn everything around us then what will be the point of travelling.


Reply
Anita
2 Years Ago

Thumbs up with a big smile on the face!

Elephants can be seen in wild in one of many national parks in Thailand!. Try that instead!

http://www.thainationalparks.com/khao-yai-national-park/


Reply
Sarah Crawford
2 Years Ago

I am SO HAPPY to hear this and THRILLED not only to see this article but to see how many people are also excited about it! 5.3K shares!!! As the founder of a small eco-focused travel company, we ONLY support the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. I know there are several other excellent-for-the-animals orgs in Thailand, but I have had so many great experiences with ENP, and they are now like family. Thank you, OGP, for sharing the fabulous news. --sarah www.ecoverdetravel.com


Reply
Maria Eugênia Mourão
2 Years Ago

=DDD


Reply
Lyn Cutes
2 Years Ago

Elephants were treated harshly .... So I hope others will follow ..


Reply
Vera Theelen
2 Years Ago

I'm happy!!! Like in the song!!!


Reply
Karen Martin
2 Years Ago

Hooray.


Reply
Namyr Toar
2 Years Ago

Yeahhhhh


Reply
Issa Byron
2 Years Ago

These are beautiful creatures, happy to see them safe from us.


Reply


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