Yok Don National Park has ditched elephant rides in favour of ethical observational tours which showcase the animals in their natural habitat, without using them for entertainment.
In the past, the park’s elephants were forced to give rides to visitors all day long. According to One Green Planet: ‘They were chained to trees, with no access to drinking water. And as well as carrying heavy riding baskets on their backs, these poor elephants weren’t allowed to touch each other or express any of their natural behaviors like roaming, dusting, mudding, scratching parasites from their skin or foraging as they would in the wild.’
While it may make for a good photo opportunity, the truth behind elephant rides is often a sad one.
The Animals Asia Foundation reportedly ‘gave the national park $65,000 to support the transition towards elephant watching tourism from July, 2018 to July, 2023’. Vietnam News went on to highlight how the ‘foundation will also send experts and staff to develop and maintain the alternative.’
“The animal welfare-friendly alternative is expected to help improve public awareness about wildlife conservation and promote new alternative tourism to domestic and international tourists.” – Phạm Tuấn Linh, Vice Director, Yok Don National Park
Elephant rides have been a contentious issue for a long time. In a recent blog, PETA outlined several reasons why they are a bad idea, and why they shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s holiday plans.
Reasons include the separation of mother and young, poor treatment, cruel training practices and fatigue. The animal welfare organisation added;
“TripAdvisor, announced that it would end all ticket sales to elephant encounters as part of a broad-sweeping policy change that also prohibits sales for “swim with dolphins” programs and tiger encounters. More than 100 other travel companies have followed suit. If you spot any ads for elephant rides or performances of any kind, please complain.”