When looking through profiles on a dating app, a selfie with a sweet puppy may be incentive enough to swipe right, especially for those of us who have pets and love animals ourselves. But it is not only household pet friends who make it into the users’ profile pictures. When you see a photo featuring a “posing” elephant or capturing an elephant ride, chances are, the animal had – and continues to have – to pay a serious price for that “attraction” being available to tourists. Elephants exploited in the tourism industry are never treated in the way we would like to imagine they are treated – the reality of their lives is well hidden from our eyes.
Pictures of people riding elephants or posing with them in an elaborate manner have been reported to appear on dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid. The snapshots may seem cute, but the reality behind them is devastating. The so-called training of elephants that are used to perform tricks, pose for photos, or carry people on their backs involve serious physical abuse. The infamous “crush” method includes isolating and chaining elephants and mistreating them until their spirits are broken and they are willing to comply … because they start to be motivated by intense fear.
People showcasing pictures taken with elephants as part of elephant tourism most likely do not want to send a message that they support exploitation of animals, they just do not realize what the elephants have to suffer to comply with their owners’ wishes and in what conditions they are forced to live. This is why spreading awareness of the issue is essential, and the dating apps themselves can play a big part in this process. A Care2 petition in the case calls on the apps to take a stand against abusing elephants by clearly banning captive elephant and elephant tourism photos. A ban on the pictures will send a simple message – photos of this kind are unacceptable because they normalize a practice which strictly should not be taking place.
Thanks to over 150,000 signatures, a Care2 petition convinced Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, to stop promoting elephant “rides” and other captive elephant experiences. This can happen again – because our voices do make a difference. Click here to sign the petition urging Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid to ban photos depicting posing with and riding captive elephants and be part of the change for over 3,000 elephants exploited in the tourism industry in Asia.
Image source: sid101/Pixabay