Elephants in the Tourism Industry

Taking an Elephant Ride or having a Temple Elephant “bless” you may seem exotic, but in reality it’s just plain cruel.  

Having a big elephant carry a relatively small human on her back, or watching a majestic bull marching in religious festivities  may not seem debilitating, but the life endured by elephants used in tourism is one filled with abject cruelty and hidden brutality.  Stolen from their families, often confined without free access to food, water and rest, and forced  to undergo sustained and systematic abuse, trekking and temple elephants live painful, shortened lives and are just a suffering shell of what they used to be.

What elephants endure behind the scenes to submit to the demands of the Tourist Industry is something you’ll never, ever forget if forced to see it, and simply does not need to happen.The real battle here is awareness, for if people knew what it takes for the world’s largest land animal to be submissive to humans, we would never, ever ask for it.

Breaking Their Spirit: 


The true story of what happens before tourists ride an elephant is hard to believe. Please note that although this video doesn’t come close to showing the ongoing abuse elephants used for tourism endure, is still contains graphic content.

 How you spend your money when traveling is the clearest way to create change for elephants trapped in the tourist industry.

The sooner more people spread the truth about the cruelties endured by elephants used in Tourism, the sooner these inhumane practices will be allowed.  How you spend your money is the clearest way to communicate with the Tourist Industry!

Thanks to people like you, more and more travel agencies are no longer including elephant rides as part of their package tours, and the more people who speak up, the more we can change this. When people open their hearts to kindness and close their wallets to cruelty, again and again until somebody listens, a new future will be in store for these innocent animals.


*Share our Humane Tourism Campaign, #NotOnMyBucketList across all of your social media channels today. Your voice can inspire so many others to take action — please share more than once, for there is power in numbers and change will come with repetition!

* When choosing a sanctuary to visit, employ your Elephant Empathy–what might that rescued elephant want? Would the elephant want to always have to be exactly where visitors want him to be for that photo op? If you love elephants, could you love the elephant more than the experience you want to have with the elephant, supporting sanctuaries that allow elephants the space, physically and emotionally, to simply be with other elephants?

*If you find yourself in a group that is visiting a camp where elephant rides are offered, let the owner know you wish to walk with the group instead of ride. Communicate that you want to support places in transition that will help captive elephants live in a more natural environment where their needs are put over the needs of tourists.

*If you go on safari or are viewing elephants in the wild, resist the urge to feed them or attempt to draw them closer to you. Let the driver or guide know you do not want to disturb the animals in an attempt to take photographs.

*If you are visiting a temple that has chained elephants, don’t tip the mahout for any interactions with the elephant. Speak with the head monk about the lack of compassion shown in keeping a chained animal. Write letters or emails to the temple, tourist authority, newspaper, embassy, and university in any city where you witness elephants chained in temples.

*Pinterest up, Tweet out, OpEd in, Yelp it down, and share it round and round again. Connect with your city/state to share the truth about the cruelest show on earth and what children are really learning by looking at animals in confined spaces. Call your City Council, Mayor, Governor and Senators and Congress persons. Talk about it on Facebook, at dinner, and especially on the powerful influencer of TripAdvisor. Successes are happening because people are rising up!

*Consider volunteering with organizations that help rebuild elephant habitat. To keep elephants out of captivity and in the wild, or to prepare for a day when some captive elephants might be returned to the wild, there needs to be a “wild” for them to return to! Rehabilitating their forests and jungles is a necessary step to enable the elephants we love to ever go home.