Last summer, I went back to Vietnam to visit my family, after 10 years. I was really excited because, other than visiting my family, I wanted to also take a trip to Thailand since it is a neighboring county. I have always been fascinated with Elephants and riding on one is at the top of my bucket list. However, the limited time did not give the opportunity to visit Thailand.
Ever since I got back to America, I have noticed that elephants have become a new clothing trend. Every store you look, there’s at least a few clothing items with elephants printed on them. I bought a few shirts with elephants on them since they are so adorable and I love elephants. My interest in elephants have intensified ever since I started taking this class. All the concepts about animals being symbolic and such, as well as the types of animal cruelty, made me more curious about the tourism industry in Thailand. Elephant rides have been known as one of Thailand’s most famous tourist activities. I found this article written by Matthew Karsten, who described his trip to Thailand and his discovery of the Elephant Nature Park. It is a natural sanctuary for elephants who have been rescued from the torturous tourism industry in Thailand.
What stood out to me the most is the part where Matthew talked about the torture of baby elephants. Wild elephants are naturally not calm enough to allow humans to ride on their back all day. Therefore, elephant trainers have to “crush” the elephants’ wild spirit at a young age, when they’re babies. Baby elephants are beaten, tortured, and starved into submission.
This articled changed my whole perspective on riding elephants. I thought that they were just large but gentle creatures, who did not mind having humans on their back because they were still allowed to live in the wild. However, I did know that they were being tortured to lose their wild spirit for the sake of the tourism business. This was a very eye-opening read. And I can say that, I will taking riding elephants off my bucket list from now on.