Save The Giant Puppies

Summer is almost here and there are so many incredible places to go! Thailand has become an increasingly popular place to visit for its breathtaking views, unique architecture, food and wildlife. Elephants are an especially significant part of the experience. Last summer I visited Thailand and it was an incredibly eye-opening adventure. Before my trip, I had seen so many pictures of people riding elephants; I didn’t realize how detrimental this is to their well-being and what kind of abuse they have to endure in order to be trained.

Asian elephants are currently listed as endangered species and there are less than 50,000 in the world. This is largely due to poaching and habitat loss. These elephants are also widely mistreated in the business of tourism. Thankfully, this issue has become more and more public and people have been transforming elephant tourism.

In Thailand, I visited an elephant sanctuary where they focused on rehabilitating abused elephants and providing them with a safe place to live. The sanctuary also focused on educating visitors about elephants, the dangers of illegal elephant trade and the benefits of ecotourism. One of the most shocking things I learned was how harmful it is to ride on Asian elephants. Asian elephants can actually break their backs when ridden because of the humped, concave shape of them. And in order to be ridden, elephants need to be trained; that training involves beating and brutalization until they become submissive. In the sanctuary, the guides introduced each elephant and told us their personal stories. It was heartbreaking to hear about how poorly these creatures were treated, and many were handicapped or even deformed from previous years of abuse.

There are alternative, humane ways you can enjoy the beauty of elephants. And the best kind of sanctuaries are the ones that allow elephants to do as they please without human interference. In addition to photos of people riding elephants, you may have seen photos of people bathing elephants or constantly touching them, but that is not ideal either. At the sanctuary I visited, my tour guide told us not to touch the elephants unless they specifically come to you and to respect their space.

So before you book any excursions, make sure to do some research first. Don’t fall into the trap of tourist scams that are involved in the abuse of elephants. Here are some elephant sanctuaries to visit if you ever find yourself in Thailand.

  1. Elephant Nature Park

  2. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

  3. Friends of the Asian Elephant

  4. Surin Project

Protect these beautiful, majestic and adorable creatures. It is OUR responsibility to be aware of our actions and how they affect our planet and the creatures on it. We need to remember to be respectful and mindful. If we take the time to get educated and make informed decisions, we can create a safer and happier world for everyone!