Tourists are being urged not to ride elephants in Thailand after horrific images emerge
As animal cruelty reaches the forefront of societal conversation, there's continued support to view animals in their natural habitats, rather than interacting with them in captivity. Now, this movement has expanded to Thailand, where locals call for the protection of their elephants.
In April, one man posted disturbing photos on Twitter from Phuket, Thailand. Since then, the pictures have gone viral again. They show several elephants bloody or with scars after being hit with metal hooks to encourage certain behavior.
Abang Da Balik posted the photo series on Twitter with the caption: "You can stop inhumanity tortured on elephants by stop riding an elephant!"
Thailand is an incredibly popular vacationing location, and elephants are a big part of its lure. Millions of tourists go to the country every year with the hope to see an elephant up-close, and maybe even ride one. But that might all be changing real soon.
As this abuse gains visualization, many are rightfully calling for a change and for tourists to reject services that abuse animals. A spokesperson from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told Yahoo News Australia: "We never support tourists riding the elephants" and "Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business."
The Thai government has been attempting to stop this mistreatment by helping injured elephants and nixing trade of wild animals. But the main issue is that, while wild elephants are protected by Thai law, domesticated ones are not.
Many domesticated elephants, who are considered working animals like cows and sheep, suffer because of it. So, the Thai government is working to give elephants a protective status and remove them from the Working Animal list.
Be sure to think twice if you're planning a trip to Thailand, or anywhere else that might offer similar experiences to elephant rides. Make sure that the places you visit provide the support and proper care for the animals we all love.