Stop Elephant Rides At African Lion Safari
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The African Lion Safari in Hamilton, Ontario is still offering elephant rides. This has to stop because riding elephants causes them mental, emotional and physical harm. It is simply exploitation for profit. African Lion Safari does not advertise or mention elephant rides on their social media or website, indicating that they are aware of the controversy.
Riding elephants (particularly in Asia where howdahs are used [ chairs or benches strapped to the elephant's back] ) is also very damaging to their spine
"Instead of smooth, round spinal disks, elephants have sharp bony protrusions that extend upwards from their spine," Carol Buckley, president of Elephant Aid International, said. "These bony protrusions and the tissue protecting them are vulnerable to weight and pressure coming from above." (Taken from The Dodo article https://www.thedodo.com/what-happens-inside-elephant-ride-1733390285.html
Elephanatics, a non-profit organisation in Vancouver, says that riding on an elephant's back can cause spinal damage in two ways:
1. A horse's spine is curved downwards so that a rider's weight is going in the same direction as the spine curvature. Conversely an elephant's spine is curved in the other direction - upwards. So the weight of the "howdah" (up to 200kg) and say 3 people (up to 280kg) is an almost half tonne of weight pushing an elephant's spine in the wrong direction. This can continue for up to 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Severe spinal damage can result.
2. The top of each elephant vertebrae is not rounded like in humans, but pointy. Excessive weight and rubbing from the howdah and riders can cause skin lesions which often become infected because few elephants in Asia are given time off to heal. This exacerbates the wounds, causing further pain.
If this is something offered in Canada, where animal welfare is generally a major concern of most people, then unaware consumers will think this is acceptable, and perhaps do the same overseas in places like Asia where elephant rides are the product of extremely cruel practices to train elephants to be ridden. The term for training an elephant to be ridden is called 'crushing', and includes starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings, being tied down, and being screamed at for several weeks. This breaks the elephants spirit, or 'crushes' it, to force the elephant to give up and do as it is told by the trainers. To ride elephants in Canada is directly funding cruelty to one of the most intelligent mammals on Earth
Increasing tourism demand for elephants offering rides or performing tricks is hugely attributing to the decimation of wild populations of an already critically endangered species.
This cruelty is also not limited to Asia. Circuses have horrible training methods including bullhooks and ropes to tie down the elephants and beat them, particularly as babies when they are first being trained. They also have limited space when traveling with a circus. These articles contain more information, including images of circus elephant training.
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