Tag Archives: thailand

Why riding elephants has been crossed off my bucket list

22 Dec

When I first began this site and created an official bucket list, riding elephants in Thailand was one of the first things I put on there. The idea had come to my attention was I was researching summer travel trips and found one that involved community service in Thailand and ended with an elephant ride. Cool, right? Even though I’m terrified of heights and falling, there is just something so majestic about the idea of riding an elephant that I immediately latched on to the idea, even after that particular trip was a no-go.

Then I read this article.

I have no idea how I thought they got elephants to be so docile and let humans on them. After all, these are the same animals that we see charging through the jungle on Animal Planet so it’s not exactly in their normal behavior to let humans crawl all over them and meander slowly along the beach. I guess I just never gave thought as to the HOW, just the “oh, cool!” factor.

It turns out that the process of turning an elephant into a docile animal is quite cruel and vicious. It involves a lot of beating and torture until they finally learn to obey a human. As someone who cannot stand to see any animal hit at all and who visibly flinched in the theater every time the elephant in Water for Elephants was hurt, this is beyond horrifying. I won’t go in to any more details because I think the author of the article says it better than I ever could but I definitely suggest reading the article, along with all of the comments. Very interesting and eye-opening discussion.

I refuse to be a part of any type of animal abuse. I will not give my money to another tourist trap where elephants are hurt. That is why I have changed “ride an elephant in Thailand” to “volunteer with elephants in Thailand”. I encourage you to do the same.