Millions of tourists travel to Asia every year and most will want to have an encounter with an elephant. Many still believe that riding an elephant is the epitome of adventure and can be done in true harmony with nature. Sadly, the reality couldn’t be farther from this. New shocking footage from a long-term investigation by the Scorpion Foundation, a wildlife trade monitoring organization, reveals mistreatment of elephants in trekking facilities across the country. The investigation was funded by Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation.

 In the disturbing video, you can see the bullhook, a spiked hook made from steel, striking the skull of the gentle giant.

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The investigation also revealed elephants spend most of their lives chained up at facilities across Indonesia, including Bali a tourism hot spot.

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While elephants are naturally gentle and docile creatures, they are not naturally conditioned to carry people on their backs. For such social animals, it’s torture to have little to no natural interactions with their own kind and the inability to express natural behaviors. 

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Only with the threat violence with a bullhook that is regularly slammed into the elephant’s ears and heads, do the animals conform. Many people believe the rides are innocent, but in reality, they are frequently beaten and deprived of food, water or rest until they lose all will to fight back.

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Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale noted of the new investigative footage, “This footage should be a reminder to anyone planning a trip to Asia not to be taken in by the innocent façade of elephant rides. You don’t see the chains, the hours of inactivity, the brutal training, the bull hook being used to its maximum – but believe what you see in the film – this is the reality. Every facility offering rides is doing this.”

Life for an elephant in captivity is far different from one living in the wild. When allowed to live in their native habitat, elephants will trek up to the thirty miles a day and form strong bonds with other elephants. Though most tourists are unaware of the abuse elephants face when in captivity, considering how endangered Asian elephants are there is no excuse for continuing these harmful attractions.  Elephants need you to speak up for them.

If you want to help elephants, the first most effective thing you can do is to never pay for one of these tourist attractions. Tell your friends and family members about the cruelty behind these rides and urge them to steer clear of them. If you want to see elephants, visit a professional elephant sanctuary, where elephants live in a natural environment.

All image source: Animals Asia

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