Treatment of Elephants
Replies: 2 - Last Post: Jan 5, 2012 4:14 AM Last Post By: thaibeachlovers
Jan 4, 2012 1:48 PM
Treatment of ElephantsHello! My husband and I are going to Thailand next month and I have a couple questions about Elephant trekking and the overall treatment of Elephants in Thailand, that hopefully some of you can help me clear up.
I've seen recent videos and read a lot about the mistreatment of Elephants in the "Trekking Business", and cannot morally support those practices. My question is, are all “Trekking Tours” so horrible for Elephants? I’ve done some research and heard muddled facts concerning the treatment of elephants, and I’m really unclear. Some tours sound like they really benefit the treatment of Elephants, especially the ones where you are taught how to feed, care and respect these animals, is this a farce? Can I assume that any Elephant not living in the wild/sanctuary is abused, or went the horrific "breaking" process? We obviously don’t have wild elephants in America, and it’s difficult to get a clear answer on generally how they are treated and how they fit into Thai Culture. I was under the assumption that most Thais love and respect these animals, but I have heard conflicting opinions.
We are vegan (not like that should matter), but we obviously have a commitment to animal rights, the thought of these amazing creatures being abused and mistreated as bad as they are in American Circus's breaks my heart- especially just for western tourists.
If anyone has any insight, or suggestions on finding animal safe activities including Elephants to participate in while we are there, it would be much appreciated.
Thank you :)
Jan 4, 2012 2:16 PM
1Good question! Elephants are an important part of Thai culture and you are right - they are loved and respected. They are also generally well-treated - by Thai standards. Your problem will be understanding that the Thai and USA values and attitudes can be poles apart.
If you are looking for the equivalent of a pure, organic form of elephant ride/training experience/working farm view then you're likely to be disappointed, and possibly upset. Ultimately, you cannot import your USA-based attitude here and expect it to sit neatly with the Thai way of doing things. It just won't happen. There's nothing wrong with your view at all, but this isn't America - it's just that simple. The French, for example, find it very cruel that you in the US don't allow their doggy to sit alongside them at a restaurant table.
Trekking tours keep working elephants employed - and put food on the tables of the mahouts and their families.
You may know that elephants have amazing memory capacity and have a wide range of emotive capability. You'd read a lot about mahouts being gored and trampled to death in revenge actions if there were widespread cruelty. You don't read such reports.
For another insight - Google and read up on the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province. Now there's one to avoid!
Jan 5, 2012 4:14 AM
2The alternative is begging on city streets. They can't be released in the wild.
#1 you cannot import your USA-based attitude here and expect it to sit neatly with the Thai way of doing things
Well put. Thais can be incredibly cruel, but then people get treated really badly here too.
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