Travel book publisher DK has promised to stop promoting elephant rides in all its travel guides. Part of Penguin Random House, the publisher will remove any photos showing animals being ridden and will not recommend any activities involving riding.
DK will also include information about the cruelty and controversy surrounding captive-elephant exhibits in future publications. The move comes after animal rights organization PETA started corresponding with the company about the issue.
“DK joins dozens of travel companies in rejecting tourist traps that force highly intelligent, social elephants to give rides,” says PETA Director Elisa Allen. “PETA urges travelers to keep all captive-elephant camps off their itineraries, and DK’s commitment to education will help prevent holidaymakers from inadvertently supporting cruelty to animals.”
More than 160 travel companies have stopped promoting activities that use elephants for riding or entertainment, including The Travel Corporation – which Contiki and other well-known brands are a part of – TUI, Thomas Cook and Intrepid Travel.
Elephants that are ridden are not merely ‘trained’, they are broken. Often taken from their mothers when young, they undergo extreme cruelty to break their spirit and make them ‘manageable.’
Adult elephants used for rides continue to suffer. They are unable to perform natural, social behaviors, and are often kept chained up for long periods.
With support for exploitative elephant tourist activities dropping, several attractions have moved away from riding, instead opting for hands-off tourist experiences. For example, Happy Elephant Care Valley in Chiang Mai, Thailand is working with World Animal Protection to create healthy, natural environments for their elephants – moving away from the traditional riding and entertainment model.
An increasing number of facilities throughout Southeast Asia are working to provide ethical, cruelty-free elephant sanctuaries – so there’s no excuse for tourists to support the abuse of elephants in order to get close to these incredible, gentle giants.