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Revered in myth yet cruelly kept in reality, Temple Elephants throughout much of SE Asia are often called “Gods in Chains”, an apt description for sentient beings forced to suffer their entire lives. They are kept captive to serve temples, where people come to remember how to be kind and compassionate. This is holy?
Humane tourism can change the future for the elephants forced to work ceaselessly in debilitation conditions giving rides and preforming in shows.To save elephants, we need to share the right information in a way that will get people to change their minds. What we tell the tourist industry we want is what they will end up offering, so it is up to us to change the conversation.
The tradition of phajaan (“The Crush”) has been practiced with systematic brutality, terrorizing and abusing a baby elephant until its heart is irrevocably broken and its body so deeply mistreated that it will endure most anything without much of a fight, anything to not be hurt further. It’s up to us to stop this–please don’t turn away. Take a deep breath, turn towards, and together we will end this cruelty–there is no time to lose.
Every year in SE Asia, hundreds of endangered elephants are shot, snared and poisoned by rural farmers, usually as a last resort for survival after wild elephants raid their farms and leave their families destitute, hungry, and often, homeless. We love elephants, but we also love people, and when you really help one you end up helping the other. Together, we can help them both!
Whether its Barnum and Bailey in the USA or as part of the tourist industry in SE Asia, elephants in circus shows endure brutal training, extremely harsh and unnatural conditions and incessant, injurious forced-breeding procedures, while the killing of wild endangered elephants to capture and sell their babies continues to feed the vicious cycle of circus abuse. This is entertainment?
The cruel reality for zoo elephants often surprises people, especially if you have fond childhood memories of the zoo or have enjoyed taking your family there. And yet, if we look past what we want from elephants and see the complexity of what they need, it’s clear that keeping elephants in zoos is an outdated practice and not the most humane choice for their conservation nor our most compassionate choice for education.
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Together we’ll leave a legacy of kindness where currently there is such cruelty, creating a future for elephants and people that is filled with the wonder and awe of Compassionate Action.