So a couple of days ago, one of our team members was scrolling through Facebook and passing the time, when she happened upon some photos of her friend riding an elephant in Cambodia. Of course, she was horrified. She thought he knew better than to participate in an animal attraction. And then, she was insulted. Insulted because he chose to caption his set of photos with “Why rent a car when you can rent an elephant #DoingItLocal #EcoFriendly #SoHipster”, as seen below.
Naturally, we here at Fatal Animal Attractions were enraged. Riding an elephant DOES NOT qualify you as being a ‘local’ – there is nothing local or native about mounting these wild animals. It is also definitely NOT #EcoFriendly because riding on the backs of elephants, especially those that have chairs saddled onto them, is not an act of friendship, but rather one of enslavement. According to Elephant Aid International, elephants are not anatomically designed to carry weight on their back. The weight of carrying tourists and mahouts (trainers) on their back has the ability to cause long-term damage on their spine. As well as wearing down the tissue and bones on an elephant’s back, the chairs they carry can also damage their skin and cause painful lesions on the elephant’s body.
(These screenshots were taken with permission from the original user. The identities of the individuals have been removed for anonymity and privacy concerns.)
So please, don’t be a fool and think that riding an elephant makes you environmentally friendly and #SoHipster with your 52 likes. If you really want to be a local, rent a bike and explore the areas around town. Don’t rent an elephant, because they are not ours to rent!
Update 19/9/16: After speaking to the original user who posted these photos, he has since edited his post to mention that he was unaware of the pain and circumstances that occurred in training the elephant to be ‘tame’ enough to ride.