Elephants at Amber Fort in India

World Elephant Day: Elephants never forget their suffering for entertainment


World Animal Protection highlights the cruelty behind elephant rides and urges people not to ride elephants.

The appalling cruelty inflicted on Indian elephants to meet growing demands from the tourism industry for elephant rides and shows has now got the attention of the Indian government – who might shortly take a huge step to end elephant rides in popular tourist destinations in Goa and Rajasthan this year.

Most tourists go on elephant rides because they love elephants. They don’t know about the intense physical and psychological pain involved. Baby elephants are cruelly taken from their mothers, and beaten into submission to give rides and perform tricks for tourists. They endure horrendous captive conditions for decades. This includes chaining and close confinement, loneliness and isolation from other elephants – with whom they would naturally form bonds – and deprivation of food and water.

Main welfare concerns at Amer Fort (also known as Amber Fort):

  • Young elephants suffer an extremely cruel and intensive breaking-in process to make them submissive enough to perform and give rides.
  • The use of pointed metal bull hooks, wooden battens, and whips on elephants causes severe pain.
  • Most elephants at Amer Fort suffer health problems including issues with their foot pads, abcessed eyes and severe wounds from the seat on their backs.
  • Elephants are often not fed properly. They are given chapatti and sugar canes. Too much of this is bad for them.
  • Many elephants are reported to have insufficient or non-existent provision for water.

More voices for wildlife

Most tourists take an elephant ride because they understandably love elephants. Many of them are unaware of the intense physical and psychological pain involved.

Captive elephants at tourist attractions such as Amber Fort endure horrendous conditions for decades, this includes chaining and close confinement, loneliness and isolation, and food and water depravation. If and when they are free of it, their suffering stays with them for the rest of their lives through emotional and physical wounds, as well as the lasting effects of having not behaved as they would have done in the wild. Put simply - these elephants never forget.

We're continuing to expose the abuse inflicted on thousands of these magnificent animals in India and across the world. Tourists and travel companies such as TripAdvisor can stop elephant rides in their tracks before it’s too late.

A tourist's once in a lifetime opportunity riding an elephant, can mean a lifetime of misery for the animal. If you can ride, hug or have a selfie with a wild animal, the attraction is cruel. Don’t go.

What you can do

We have a long history of campaigning to end the use of wild animals for entertainment. We ended bear dancing in India, Turkey and Greece by working over a decade with local partners and government officials.

Over the past years over 100 travel companies across the world committed to no longer sell and promote venues that offer elephant rides and shows to their customers. You can see the full list here.

World Animal Protection will continue to expose the suffering of wild animals in entertainment and look to educate the four million tourists who visit wildlife tourist attractions every year.

Show your support to protect these elephants

A tourist's once in a lifetime opportunity riding an elephant, can mean a lifetime of misery for the animal.

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