At smarTours, there’s not a team member among us who doesn’t love animals. If we aren’t talking about travel, we’re probably talking about our pets or watching cute animal videos. We even have travelers who share pictures of their furry family members with us! Our team also appreciates the wildlife encounters we offer on tours, so when mistreatment of elephants at parks and resorts in Thailand was recently highlighted in the news, we jumped in to action to make sure our Thailand tours, which feature elephant encounters, are doing what is ethical and right.
What exactly does mistreatment of elephants mean? Unlike African Elephants, the Asian Elephant does not face as much struggle with poaching because only some males grow large tusks. It’s certainly a threat, but the mistreatment we speak of here is about their livelihood. In many elephant parks that offer experiences and encounters with this large, but gentle animal, they use cruel tactics to train and confine them.
Here are some examples of mistreatment:
– Uncomfortable living conditions, which include chaining them up in their enclosures
– Prodding them with sharp objects to train them to do tricks
– Working them all day with minimal to no breaks
– Forcing older elephants to work instead of retiring them
None of this is okay, and smarTours wants to ensure we don’t partner with any parks that are involved with this horrible treatment of elephants. Because our Thailand tour used various parks for our elephant activity, we decided to eliminate that practice and determine a single park we could trust to protect the elephants while also giving our travelers an ethical and fun experience.
Starting this fall, our Thailand tours will now work with Elephant Nature Park, an amazing rescue center for distressed elephants in Thailand. They provide a sanctuary for this magnificent animal by restoring their quality of life through great care, loads of leisure time, and reintroducing them to their natural environment. During our tour’s visit there, guests can feed the elephants (they love fruit!) and observe them as they bath, roam around, and play together.
You don’t need to ride an elephant or see it do a trick to appreciate all they have to offer. They are a majestic creature to watch and extremely easy to connect with when you interact with them. With our new partner, we’re sure smarTours travelers will get an incredible experience while also doing it in a responsible way!
Read more on National Geographic’s investigation into the mistreatment of elephants and other wildlife around the world here.
Explore our Thailand tours here.