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When people go to Thailand and ride on an elephant, most of them have no idea that elephants are often separated from their mothers when they're babies, tied down with ropes, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with sharp weapons. If they knew, they probably wouldn't do it.
But some tour operators can't say that they didn't know, because PETA told them about the industry-standard abuse, but they still offer elephant rides as part of their tours.
Life for these elephants is hell: Trainers at some camps wave flaming sticks in baby elephants' faces, just to terrify them. The animals are often deprived of food and water during training, which can last for days and leave them injured and traumatized. Some don't even survive.
The survivors will spend the rest of their lives like slaves, chained up and forced to carry tourists on their backs through sweltering heat and exhaustion, all while being jabbed and pulled with weapons such as bullhooks or other sharp objects.
If this makes you mad, think about how the elephants feel—then you might be able to understand why they sometimes lash out. Earlier this year, a man vacationing in Thailand was gored to death in front of his daughter. Plus, elephants throughout Asia are known to carry tuberculosis, a deadly disease that can be spread between elephants and humans.
Riding elephants hurts animals and humans, and there's no reason for it. Animals are not ours to capture, beat, enslave, and ride.
Tell travel companies to stop supporting the abuse of intelligent, sensitive elephants.