TORONTO, June 26, 2020 /CNW/ - As the economy starts to reopen and we approach our "new normal", some may already be thinking about their next travel adventure and the possibility of getting up close to wild animals or seeing them perform. Global charity, World Animal Protection is urging tourists to make sure they do this ethically, as many are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes to train wild animals.
Unseen footage released by the charity shows parts of the cruel training process, sometimes known as 'the crush', that young elephants endure to make them submissive enough to interact with people.
In the video young elephants are forcibly taken from their mothers, tied to wooden structures for days, forced to walk in chains and beaten.
World Animal Protection is calling on the travel industry to build back better before tourism resumes in Thailand and other holiday destinations. And to commit to end the exploitation of elephants and other wild animals for tourist entertainment.
"This is the ideal opportunity for the travel industry to cut its ties with the wildlife trade and rebuild responsibly," says Melissa Matlow of World Animal Protection Canada. "Elephants are still being poached from the wild to supply the demand from tourists to ride them. Regardless of whether the elephants are captured from the wild or bred in captivity, all elephants used for rides are cruelly trained and this must stop now to end animal suffering and protect elephants in the wild."
There are approximately 2,800 captive elephants in camps across Thailand, who have undergone this cruel training. The disturbing footage was captured to document the most common techniques used to break the elephant's spirits. This includes the use of a bull-hook – a metal tool used to jab sensitive areas, chains to restrain them and frequent exposure to stressful situations. This horrific treatment of elephants is to make them submissive enough to be used for performing, riding, bathing, and other tourist interactions. Tourism drives the demand for elephant experiences, and trainers are forced to deploy these methods.
With the industry coming to a standstill during the pandemic, at least 85 elephant camps in Thailand were forced to close, laying off over 5,000 staff. The remaining camps are still struggling to look after their elephants. World Animal Protection has been providing essential funds for 12 ethical, elephant-friendly camps across Asia to help them through this difficult time.
As a sustainable, long-term solution, the charity is advocating for a ban on breeding elephants for tourism entertainment to ensure future generations are spared this trauma. Travel companies also hold considerable power to turn their backs on unethical practices and can opt instead to support elephant-friendly camps, where tourists see elephants from a safe distance.
For most elephants, being released back into the wild is not possible, so an elephant-friendly camp is their best option. These camps still provide jobs to local people such as elephant keepers, known as mahouts. Elephants are given the freedom to behave naturally , rather than being used for strenuous rides and kept in chains.
More than 250 travel companies have pledged not to sell elephant rides and shows. This includes Intrepid, G Adventures, World Expeditions and the Travel Corporation who have adopted progressive animal welfare policies and are working with World Animal Protection to encourage the travel industry to change.
World Animal Protection is calling on other Canadian travel companies to join and take responsibility to end the exploitation of elephants and other wild animals forever.
The charity also encourages everyone to support a complete global ban of the wildlife trade, which inflicts suffering on millions of animals daily.
About World Animal Protection
From our offices around the world, including, Brazil, Kenya, the US and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 3 billion animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming. For more information visit https://www.worldanimalprotection.ca
SOURCE World Animal Protection
For further information: Notes to editors: For an interview with a spokesperson or for more b-roll, images contact Nina Devries - [email protected] or 437-970-6565