Stop Elephant Abuse in Elephant Riding Attractions

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Elephants globally, especially in Asia, are being constantly abused and trafficked into the submission of people who take advantage of them for elephant rides.

This type of tourist attraction, which ranks top 10 most harmful, may trick the desires of hundreds of tourists, but this petition should make us all aware that elephants are not meant to be ridden on. Not only is this riding unnatural, it comes with a cruel and twisted process used by Thai locals, and many other people of other countries, called pajan: the ritual is crushing and disgustingly scarring, not only to the people who witness this, but undoubtedly the elephants who suffer a much greater damage.

The process of pajan is designed to 'break' the elephants' spirits to make them submissive towards their owners; this is done through a lengthy and harsh tradition of sleep-deprivation, hunger, beatings, thirst and immobilization in tiny wooden cages.

Recently, on a trip to Thailand, I had seen this with my own eyes. Without a doubt, it was heart-breaking and difficult to watch, so, something must be said and done.

The bus arrived at a location looking like a farm, with the main area having a few seats and a tower built of metal for tourists to mount the poor elephants. I am certain that if a small-scale farm, with no more fuss than a small tower in an somewhat isolated area, could make elephant riding such an attraction, thousands of other areas dotted around other parts of Thailand can too, with ease.

I watched closely to even try to comprehend all the pain they suffered: chains curled around their necks and dragging on the floor until attached to their feet; saddles strapped with ropes held tightly and hanging unnaturally around the tails and limbs, as the saddles would sway right to left under the weight of the tourists; and lastly, the feet of the locals on dangling between the eyes of the elephant as the locals would sit on their heads, hitting them with a bullhook (otherwise known as an 'elephant goad' used in elephant training which consisted of a sharp 60-90cm metal hook) around the eye if they disobeyed- or rather, were distracted by surroundings. And their no less sharper cries, a squeak ignored by every one else, penetrated my ears continuously. This would be a few minutes of their day, only a glimpse to be repeated every hour and every day and every year for the rest of their entrapped lives, until a halt is provided.



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