I’ve always loved elephants. I find them to be some of the most amazing creatures on this planet. I can still remember the feeling I had before having my first encounter with elephants in Sri Lanka. Going to the place would be a magical experience for me. But, when I got there it didn’t feel magical. The entire time I was there the mahout (elephant trainer) was telling the elephant what to do. Although I couldn’t understand what the mahout was saying, I didn’t like the tone he was using with the elephant. I felt a strange energy, as if the elephant was actually scared of the mahout. On top of that, the mahout kept asking us to give him tips, endlessly—and when we didn’t he became quite rude towards us.
After this experience I went to several other places that called themselves sanctuaries or elephant foundations. I was irritated by what I saw. Elephants locked in chains or forced to give rides.
The span of visiting these elephant “sanctuaries” was not very long for me. It was during the time I was a flight attendant and after several visits I decided I needed to do research into them. I was appalled by what I found out. The truth is, many elephants used for tourist purposes are actually overworked. Often times baby elephants are taken away from their mothers at very early ages. Many get beaten when they disobey their masters. Some even die from exhaustion. The list goes on and on and it is hard for me to write this without tears swelling up in my eyes. So, now that you know the truth I beg of you to please stop riding elephants. Don’t frequent tourist trap places where the elephants are clearly being mistreated – including respective circuses. Respect these awesome creatures and let them be free!