It has taken hundreds of years, but we’re finally starting to recognize that elephants do not thrive in captivity. We’ve witnessed the death of countless captive infants, watched these gentle giants sway back and forth in a mindless haze, and seen too many elephants euthanized due to foot conditions to be able to honestly think zoos have any beneficial value to these animals. Yet, despite this heartbreaking knowledge, facilities that profit from holding these animals, notably zoos and other attractions, refuse to put an end to displaying elephants. Rather, many are choosing to “improve” the conditions of elephants’ captivity. In the U.S., rules dictating that zoo elephants must have a companion have been made – but this hardly relieves the complete suffering of these animals.
In an effort to make life for visitors … err, we mean elephants … better, the Fuji Safari Park has built a 213-foot pool for their Asian elephants. Given the summer heat, the pool is a great relief for these animals. But there is one pretty HUGE problem with this “solution” … it is tailored more to improve the experience of paying customers more than the actual elephants.
The addition of the pool has been lauded as a great attraction for visitors. Thanks to the transparent walls, people can watch the elephant’s legs moving and see them use their trunks as a snorkel!
Wow … “natural” elephant behavior at its finest…
Sure this pool provides these elephants with a much-needed diversion … but it hardly improves the fact that after this animal gets out of the pool, they will return to standing on hard concrete, mindlessly, for hours.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, “The inspiration behind the glass swimming pool came from images of elephants in the ocean. The zoo wanted to show tourists that the animals can actually swim, something many were unaware of.” We don’t think there are enough facepalms to do that comment justice…
Aside from the blatant fact that this pool was built to draw in tourists – not really to, you know, keep the elephants from becoming too mentally or physically distraught, using the justification that they were inspired by elephants in the ocean is just ridiculous. Yes, elephants enjoy swimming in bodies of water, but you would be hard-pressed to find a wild elephant willingly venturing into the ocean. The salt water is harsh on their skin and eyes and being exposed to the sun without shade is extremely uncomfortable for them. The only case you would see an elephant swimming in the ocean is if that animal has been broken and trained to do so – hardly a behavior that should be replicated for “educational” purposes. It almost seems as if they couldn’t afford to keep captive orcas, so they just put their elephants in a pool to make up for it!
It seems that the highlights of the Fuji Safari Park doesn’t end with swimming elephants, but they also offer opportunities for visitors to “cuddle lion cubs” under the watchful eye of zookeepers. (We won’t get into what’s so wrong with this now, but if you’d like to learn more, click here.)
It is extremely clear that this added attraction is nothing more than that, a show for people, not a genuine addition to benefit of elephants. Asian elephants are in grave danger of extinction and if we continue to treat them as nothing more than props to make money from, they will disappear from the wild within the next 20 years. As consumers, it is up to us to see through these sham “animal welfare” scams and work to put an end to the cruelty. The easiest way to make this happen is to stop paying to see animals suffer. Share this article and encourage others to boycott this safari park and all other facilities that profit from captivity.
Animals belong in the wild, not tanks, cages, or enclosures decorated with fake trees. It’s time we stood up to #EmptyTheCages.
Lead image source: AP