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Ayutthaya, Thailand, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an archaeological and historical marvel that attracts millions of tourists every year. New PETA video footage shows elephants chained and forced to lead visitors through the cultural site, causing severe physical and psychological suffering to these intelligent and sensitive animals.
Elephants should be given the opportunity to engage in vital activities that keep them happy and healthy, including foraging, dust bathing, swimming, and most importantly, socializing with family and other elephants. Elephants cry when they lose a loved one and females stay with their families for life, but in Thailand captive elephants like those in Ayutthaya undergo a ritual called phajaan, which translates to “breaking love between mother and baby.
The only way to force elephants to allow humans to ride them or suffer other unwanted contact is to constantly threaten them with corporal punishment, as PETA’s video shows. Baby elephants are taken from their mothers, beaten, deprived of food and water and tied with ropes. They endure weeks of physical torture, emotional abuse, and loneliness until their spirits break and they become fearful enough to obey their captors to avoid more pain.
Ayutthaya dog handlers brandish menacing weapons around the elephants’ heads, keeping the animals anxious all the time. Endless violence, trauma, and the deprivation of a natural, free life cause them to sway in their enclosure – abnormal behavior that has never been seen in the wild.
Elephants have extraordinary memories, so imagine the pain and grief they feel when separated from their families and forced into servitude. You can help these animals by refusing to ride them or visit places where they are forced to perform.
Please urge the Tourism Authority of Thailand to ban elephant rides at tourist sites in Thailand.