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.

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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.

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“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!

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Image source: Le Meridien Angkor/Flickr

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