How Netflix’s Tiger King reveals just how messed up wildlife tourism has become


Guys, I’m deep into the viral docuseries Tiger King on Netflix, and my god, what a dreadful yet unmissable look at the worst (or unluckiest?) of humanity in rural America.

It’s like a car crash, and I just can’t tear my eyes away. I’m enthralled yet horrified, obsessed, and disgusted. The plot twists, the surprises, the frightening real glimpses of human truths, holy shit!

With a tagline of murder, mayhem, and madness, Tiger King follows the storyline of Joe Exotic, a zoo owner in bumfuck, Oklahoma, with a narrative arc that spirals out of control in a true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding.

Buckle up.

View this post on Instagram

Where’s the lie? #tigerking #joeexotic #carolebaskin #netflix #quarantine #covid_19 #socialdistancing #socialdistance #tigerkingmemes

A post shared by Erika Kelly (@cattybritches) on Mar 23, 2020 at 3:22pm PDT

There are gun-loving gay cowboys with mullets. The cults. The polygamy. The loss of limbs and teeth. Inbred tigers, ligers, and illegal lemurs. Excessive dynamite and guns lovingly adorned with pink camo.

Accidental suicide and haphazard murder plots. Flower crowns. So much leopard print. Failed grassroots governor elections. Expired Walmart meat pizzas. Hillbillies and their homemade country music videos featuring fat tigers.

Missing husbands. Meth and sequins. Florida. I can’t even.

Honestly, this show is batshit insane. AND IT’S REAL.

View this post on Instagram

The truth has yet to come out. So don't believe everything you hear.

A post shared by Joe Exotic (@joe_exotic) on Sep 7, 2018 at 3:14pm PDT

But what makes me sad about the train wreck human drama of this docu-series is that the stars, the tigers, are all but forgotten.

Did you know there are more captive tigers in the US than in the wild? How is breeding tigers in your redneck backyard still allowed? How are these pretend “wildlife sanctuaries” still allowed? And for god’s sake, how is Carole Baskin not in jail for murder/fraud/animal abuse and/or all of the above?

And yet no matter how vile it gets, how can I STILL feel compassion for these horrible people who put baby tigers in suitcases and carry guns around like candy?

View this post on Instagram

Visit us by making reservations at MyrtleBeachSafari.com Link In Bio 🐯🙈♥️ #repost • @mimicalacool Best…..day….EVER!!!!! @myrtlebeachsafari & @docantle at @myrtlebeachsafaritours have the most incredible experience ever! It’s a bucket list item that I’d suggest to the world! @rarespeciesfund is doing amazing work to help save these tigers! Blessed to have learned more about these incredible creatures! #savethetigers #blessed #grateful #myrtlebeachsafari 💙🐅

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Mar 14, 2020 at 2:49pm PDT

Disguised behind the most insane group of characters you’ve ever laid eyes on, Tiger King shines a light on the whole heap of uncomfortable truths.

Last year National Geographic broke a significant feature that there are more tigers in private zoos and as pets in the USA than in the wild. What the hell?!

That has to stop now. Totally unacceptable for many reasons, one primary being that your neighbor might have a lion in his garage that could escape and eat you, the other major one being that lions belong in Africa, not rural Ohio, and tigers belong in India not fucking Oklahoma.

(sorry, this makes me absolutely livid)

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

These huge apex predators need massive amounts of territory and belong in the wild. Of course, that opens a whole other wormhole of issues from habitat loss to revenge killings to food loss, but that is where the bulk of conservation work should be focused.

You don’t need big cat sanctuaries in America if people aren’t allowed to have big cats as pets that end up needing “rescuing.”

The other main point is that real conservation doesn’t allow human interaction with animals. No yanking newborn tiger cubs from their moms to pose for selfies. No swimming with huge elephants. No cuddling drugged tigers for your new Tinder pic.

Big cats and endangered species belong in the wild or proper conservation centers without human interaction, period.

Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants

View this post on Instagram

Tap the link in our bio for more info about how to make reservations! 🐯♥️ #repost @miss_snapalots ・・・ 27 🎈 Thank you @myrtlebeachsafari for once in a lifetime experience! 💚 It’s so amazing what you all do! Please go follow and help save these rare species! @rarespeciesfund #savethetigersavetheworld

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Aug 29, 2019 at 6:40am PDT

 

What’s more, I’m appalled at how many massive profiles on social media feature guys and their exotic pets. Instagram, why do you allow this kind of content? Unethical wildlife breeding and captive endangered species bred for photos, and profit are wrong. And it’s illegal. Almost every one of these profiles has faced criminal charges and received abuse warnings.

These zoos and rescue centers give the impression they are for conservation when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s important to question that when you see unethical wildlife practices.

Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism

View this post on Instagram

3 of the 4 different color varieties of tigers! Come meet these tiger cubs by tapping the link in our bio to make reservations! 🐯🧡

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Sep 14, 2019 at 3:38pm PDT

For example, you can pay thousands of dollars to swim with a tiger or for a “volunteer” experience. Seriously? Your tiger selfies aren’t volunteering.

Where does that money go? Where do the profits from these sanctuaries go? How are they using the money they make from breeding and using tigers to fund wildlife conservation? How do they have so many baby tigers all the time? Why aren’t they with their mothers?

Baby tigers become useless in captivity after only 12 weeks because they’ve become too big and too dangerous to interact with people. After that, they usually just disappear.

Not a single one of these conservation tigers bred in America has ever been released back into the world. How could they when they’re raised and hand-fed by humans?

View this post on Instagram

@loganpaul helping us spread the message….Save The Tiger, Save The World❗️🐯 The tiger stands as the last great sentinel of the forest, if we lose the tiger we will lose a piece of ourselves forever. But if we save the Tiger we could save the world, in order for the tiger to survive it needs clean clear skies, pristine lakes and rivers, wide open spaces, plentiful prey animals, and most importantly it needs you, people who care! Therefore if we save the Tiger, we save the world.

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Feb 4, 2020 at 8:22am PST

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part for me is seeing photos of white tigers.

These white tigers are incredibly inbred, almost all are from the same white Bengal tiger that was sold into the US in the 1960s from India. There is no conservation reason to breed white tigers, why would you breed for a recessive gene like that if you were trying to save a population of endangered animals like? Your focus would be on genetic diversity.

These white tigers are purely bred for their beauty; even though most of them have so many inbred defects, they would have no hope of surviving in the wild. It’s just cruel.

Can someone please tell me how it’s ethical or moral to breed a lion with a tiger and then put it on a leash and keep it a cage so you can make money?

View this post on Instagram

Tap the link in our bio to meet this incredible tiger cub animal ambassadors! 🐯♥️ #repost • @charlestonblonde 😍 Y’all can you even handle the cuteness? I’ve had so many questions about our time at @myrtlebeachsafari that I decided to write an entire blog post about it. Check it out. The link is in my bio.

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Mar 10, 2020 at 3:06pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

I just had my 60th birthday. I wanted to come hang out with one of my favorite big cats, Apollo here is only five years old and already weighs over 900 pounds and stands 11.5 feet tall on his hind legs. When I asked my partner Moksha what her favorite thing she learned about ligers over the last 20 years of hanging out she said “he’s bilingual as he speaks both lion and tiger” She doesn’t look 40 does she. The world largest cat. Over 900 lbs and 11.5 ft tall.

A post shared by Dr. Bhagavan Antle (@docantle) on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:22am PDT

What’s sad is that this isn’t unique to America. Lions are bred for slaughter on canned hunting farms in South Africa, and China has a massive market for tiger parts (among all others) for traditional medicine and food. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With many of these for-profit private zoos and exotic animal pet owners on Instagram masquerading as “conservation” projects, it’s never been more important to question where you chose to spend your tourism dollars.

Travelers love animals, me included, but it’s imperative to follow a few guidelines for responsibly interacting with wildlife.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

At the end of the day, we have the power as consumers to stand up and say exploiting wildlife and endangered species is wrong. Dig deep and do your research before going to any of these places and have a thorough look around when you’re there. Does it look suitable for the animals?

Beware of buzzwords like “gives back to conservation,” sanctuary,” and “rescue.” Is the animal interacting in a way that isn’t normal? Has it been trained? Most of these training methods are based on fear and are cruel.

My god, imagine the impact it would have if all of the profits and expenses from exploiting exotic animals went towards conservation projects, what a difference that would make.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

Listen, I get it. I would fucking love to cuddle a baby tiger. Their squeaks are so cute, and I know it’s super unique. But it’s not right. Those tigers don’t belong on my Instagram or in my arms.

One day I’ll follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling to India and hopefully get to track wild tigers on safari in their natural habitat. But I will only do that in the most responsible way I can.

I’ve tracked leopards in Sri Lanka, lions in Botswana, cheetahs in South Africa, and elephants just about everywhere. It’s a real privilege that I’ve been able to go to these places, something I don’t ever take advantage of or forget.

It’s powerful and so special to see majestic, iconic creatures in the wild, where they belong. There is something so profoundly sad and degrading to such a mighty animal reduced to misery for the enjoyment of humans.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

The second disturbing truth brought to light from Tiger King was just how disconnected I am from my American siblings.

I grew up in rural Virginia, about 15 minutes from West Virginia, so I am far from inexperienced when it comes to Trump-loving, gun-toting, uneducated rednecks. But this show was next level sad and made me face my privilege in an uncomfortable way.

If things are going to change, a whole heap of cultural mindsets would have to shift. With education and opportunity, anything is possible.

I think the US needs to work on prison reform, drug rehab programs, and healthy community programs for its people. If anything, Tiger King was a painful glimpse of what excessive gun freedom + meth + extreme poverty + lack of opportunity does to people.

tiger king wildlife tourism

So please, Netflix, stop streaming this outside of America; it’s’s not a good look for us.

And for the love of God, please never take a selfie with a baby endangered animal at one of these places!

Also, I think I’m going crazy. Send me something sane to binge-watch, please that won’t rile me up. Thanks.

Did you know about these seedy depths of wildlife tourism? Have you ever seen one of these fantastic animals in the wild? Where would you go on safari if you could? Spill!

tiger king wildlife tourism

The post How Netflix’s Tiger King reveals just how messed up wildlife tourism has become appeared first on Young Adventuress.





Source link

How Netflix’s Tiger King reveals just how messed up wildlife tourism has become


Guys, I’m deep into the viral docuseries Tiger King on Netflix, and my god, what a dreadful yet unmissable look at the worst (or unluckiest?) of humanity in rural America.

It’s like a car crash, and I just can’t tear my eyes away. I’m enthralled yet horrified, obsessed, and disgusted. The plot twists, the surprises, the frightening real glimpses of human truths, holy shit!

With a tagline of murder, mayhem, and madness, Tiger King follows the storyline of Joe Exotic, a zoo owner in bumfuck, Oklahoma, with a narrative arc that spirals out of control in a true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding.

Buckle up.

View this post on Instagram

Where’s the lie? #tigerking #joeexotic #carolebaskin #netflix #quarantine #covid_19 #socialdistancing #socialdistance #tigerkingmemes

A post shared by Erika Kelly (@cattybritches) on Mar 23, 2020 at 3:22pm PDT

There are gun-loving gay cowboys with mullets. The cults. The polygamy. The loss of limbs and teeth. Inbred tigers, ligers, and illegal lemurs. Excessive dynamite and guns lovingly adorned with pink camo.

Accidental suicide and haphazard murder plots. Flower crowns. So much leopard print. Failed grassroots governor elections. Expired Walmart meat pizzas. Hillbillies and their homemade country music videos featuring fat tigers.

Missing husbands. Meth and sequins. Florida. I can’t even.

Honestly, this show is batshit insane. AND IT’S REAL.

View this post on Instagram

The truth has yet to come out. So don't believe everything you hear.

A post shared by Joe Exotic (@joe_exotic) on Sep 7, 2018 at 3:14pm PDT

But what makes me sad about the train wreck human drama of this docu-series is that the stars, the tigers, are all but forgotten.

Did you know there are more captive tigers in the US than in the wild? How is breeding tigers in your redneck backyard still allowed? How are these pretend “wildlife sanctuaries” still allowed? And for god’s sake, how is Carole Baskin not in jail for murder/fraud/animal abuse and/or all of the above?

And yet no matter how vile it gets, how can I STILL feel compassion for these horrible people who put baby tigers in suitcases and carry guns around like candy?

View this post on Instagram

Visit us by making reservations at MyrtleBeachSafari.com Link In Bio 🐯🙈♥️ #repost • @mimicalacool Best…..day….EVER!!!!! @myrtlebeachsafari & @docantle at @myrtlebeachsafaritours have the most incredible experience ever! It’s a bucket list item that I’d suggest to the world! @rarespeciesfund is doing amazing work to help save these tigers! Blessed to have learned more about these incredible creatures! #savethetigers #blessed #grateful #myrtlebeachsafari 💙🐅

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Mar 14, 2020 at 2:49pm PDT

Disguised behind the most insane group of characters you’ve ever laid eyes on, Tiger King shines a light on the whole heap of uncomfortable truths.

Last year National Geographic broke a significant feature that there are more tigers in private zoos and as pets in the USA than in the wild. What the hell?!

That has to stop now. Totally unacceptable for many reasons, one primary being that your neighbor might have a lion in his garage that could escape and eat you, the other major one being that lions belong in Africa, not rural Ohio, and tigers belong in India not fucking Oklahoma.

(sorry, this makes me absolutely livid)

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

These huge apex predators need massive amounts of territory and belong in the wild. Of course, that opens a whole other wormhole of issues from habitat loss to revenge killings to food loss, but that is where the bulk of conservation work should be focused.

You don’t need big cat sanctuaries in America if people aren’t allowed to have big cats as pets that end up needing “rescuing.”

The other main point is that real conservation doesn’t allow human interaction with animals. No yanking newborn tiger cubs from their moms to pose for selfies. No swimming with huge elephants. No cuddling drugged tigers for your new Tinder pic.

Big cats and endangered species belong in the wild or proper conservation centers without human interaction, period.

Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants

View this post on Instagram

Tap the link in our bio for more info about how to make reservations! 🐯♥️ #repost @miss_snapalots ・・・ 27 🎈 Thank you @myrtlebeachsafari for once in a lifetime experience! 💚 It’s so amazing what you all do! Please go follow and help save these rare species! @rarespeciesfund #savethetigersavetheworld

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Aug 29, 2019 at 6:40am PDT

 

What’s more, I’m appalled at how many massive profiles on social media feature guys and their exotic pets. Instagram, why do you allow this kind of content? Unethical wildlife breeding and captive endangered species bred for photos, and profit are wrong. And it’s illegal. Almost every one of these profiles has faced criminal charges and received abuse warnings.

These zoos and rescue centers give the impression they are for conservation when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s important to question that when you see unethical wildlife practices.

Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism

View this post on Instagram

3 of the 4 different color varieties of tigers! Come meet these tiger cubs by tapping the link in our bio to make reservations! 🐯🧡

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Sep 14, 2019 at 3:38pm PDT

For example, you can pay thousands of dollars to swim with a tiger or for a “volunteer” experience. Seriously? Your tiger selfies aren’t volunteering.

Where does that money go? Where do the profits from these sanctuaries go? How are they using the money they make from breeding and using tigers to fund wildlife conservation? How do they have so many baby tigers all the time? Why aren’t they with their mothers?

Baby tigers become useless in captivity after only 12 weeks because they’ve become too big and too dangerous to interact with people. After that, they usually just disappear.

Not a single one of these conservation tigers bred in America has ever been released back into the world. How could they when they’re raised and hand-fed by humans?

View this post on Instagram

@loganpaul helping us spread the message….Save The Tiger, Save The World❗️🐯 The tiger stands as the last great sentinel of the forest, if we lose the tiger we will lose a piece of ourselves forever. But if we save the Tiger we could save the world, in order for the tiger to survive it needs clean clear skies, pristine lakes and rivers, wide open spaces, plentiful prey animals, and most importantly it needs you, people who care! Therefore if we save the Tiger, we save the world.

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Feb 4, 2020 at 8:22am PST

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part for me is seeing photos of white tigers.

These white tigers are incredibly inbred, almost all are from the same white Bengal tiger that was sold into the US in the 1960s from India. There is no conservation reason to breed white tigers, why would you breed for a recessive gene like that if you were trying to save a population of endangered animals like? Your focus would be on genetic diversity.

These white tigers are purely bred for their beauty; even though most of them have so many inbred defects, they would have no hope of surviving in the wild. It’s just cruel.

Can someone please tell me how it’s ethical or moral to breed a lion with a tiger and then put it on a leash and keep it a cage so you can make money?

View this post on Instagram

Tap the link in our bio to meet this incredible tiger cub animal ambassadors! 🐯♥️ #repost • @charlestonblonde 😍 Y’all can you even handle the cuteness? I’ve had so many questions about our time at @myrtlebeachsafari that I decided to write an entire blog post about it. Check it out. The link is in my bio.

A post shared by Myrtle Beach Safari (@myrtlebeachsafari) on Mar 10, 2020 at 3:06pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

I just had my 60th birthday. I wanted to come hang out with one of my favorite big cats, Apollo here is only five years old and already weighs over 900 pounds and stands 11.5 feet tall on his hind legs. When I asked my partner Moksha what her favorite thing she learned about ligers over the last 20 years of hanging out she said “he’s bilingual as he speaks both lion and tiger” She doesn’t look 40 does she. The world largest cat. Over 900 lbs and 11.5 ft tall.

A post shared by Dr. Bhagavan Antle (@docantle) on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:22am PDT

What’s sad is that this isn’t unique to America. Lions are bred for slaughter on canned hunting farms in South Africa, and China has a massive market for tiger parts (among all others) for traditional medicine and food. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With many of these for-profit private zoos and exotic animal pet owners on Instagram masquerading as “conservation” projects, it’s never been more important to question where you chose to spend your tourism dollars.

Travelers love animals, me included, but it’s imperative to follow a few guidelines for responsibly interacting with wildlife.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

At the end of the day, we have the power as consumers to stand up and say exploiting wildlife and endangered species is wrong. Dig deep and do your research before going to any of these places and have a thorough look around when you’re there. Does it look suitable for the animals?

Beware of buzzwords like “gives back to conservation,” sanctuary,” and “rescue.” Is the animal interacting in a way that isn’t normal? Has it been trained? Most of these training methods are based on fear and are cruel.

My god, imagine the impact it would have if all of the profits and expenses from exploiting exotic animals went towards conservation projects, what a difference that would make.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

Listen, I get it. I would fucking love to cuddle a baby tiger. Their squeaks are so cute, and I know it’s super unique. But it’s not right. Those tigers don’t belong on my Instagram or in my arms.

One day I’ll follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling to India and hopefully get to track wild tigers on safari in their natural habitat. But I will only do that in the most responsible way I can.

I’ve tracked leopards in Sri Lanka, lions in Botswana, cheetahs in South Africa, and elephants just about everywhere. It’s a real privilege that I’ve been able to go to these places, something I don’t ever take advantage of or forget.

It’s powerful and so special to see majestic, iconic creatures in the wild, where they belong. There is something so profoundly sad and degrading to such a mighty animal reduced to misery for the enjoyment of humans.

tiger king wildlife tourism

tiger king wildlife tourism

The second disturbing truth brought to light from Tiger King was just how disconnected I am from my American siblings.

I grew up in rural Virginia, about 15 minutes from West Virginia, so I am far from inexperienced when it comes to Trump-loving, gun-toting, uneducated rednecks. But this show was next level sad and made me face my privilege in an uncomfortable way.

If things are going to change, a whole heap of cultural mindsets would have to shift. With education and opportunity, anything is possible.

I think the US needs to work on prison reform, drug rehab programs, and healthy community programs for its people. If anything, Tiger King was a painful glimpse of what excessive gun freedom + meth + extreme poverty + lack of opportunity does to people.

tiger king wildlife tourism

So please, Netflix, stop streaming this outside of America; it’s’s not a good look for us.

And for the love of God, please never take a selfie with a baby endangered animal at one of these places!

Also, I think I’m going crazy. Send me something sane to binge-watch, please that won’t rile me up. Thanks.

Did you know about these seedy depths of wildlife tourism? Have you ever seen one of these fantastic animals in the wild? Where would you go on safari if you could? Spill!

tiger king wildlife tourism

The post How Netflix’s Tiger King reveals just how messed up wildlife tourism has become appeared first on Young Adventuress.





Source link

Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants.


It’s World Elephant Day, August 12th, which means it’s time for some real talk about riding elephants. Are you ready?

There was once a time, not even a decade ago, where riding an elephant in Southeast Asia was a pinnacle accomplishment in one’s travel diaries. The dreamy pictures of exploring the jungle on the backs of these massive wild giants.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s something that was always on my list to do one day, and live out all of my colonial safari fantasies.

It’s an idyllic image that has appealed to hundreds of thousands of tourists for a long time, me included, and no one really questioned it. Where did these elephants come from? How were they being treated? What was their quality of life?

riding elephants

In the late 1980’s, after logging was banned in Thailand, local elephant trainers turned their talents to tourism, inciting the elephant tourism boom we’ve seen on all of the travel blogs and in our Instagram feed today.

To the untrained eye, it looked harmless. You’d ride an elephant just like you’d ride a horse right?

How different can it be? What’s so different? If you’re like me, you grew up going to the circus and visiting the zoo, interacting with animals was fun and exciting, not many thought much further.

Even now, many of what we see online is slated with a “conservation” agenda designed to deter us from digging further. But how many baby elephants or lion cubs are really in need of rescuing?

In June National Geographic launched a massive exposé around the cruel reality of wildlife tourism.

riding elephants

The truth is what you might expect if you begin asking questions, hard and cruel.

For example, elephants who are broken in a process referred to as “the crush,” are trained to parade tourists around in a circle, receiving some of the worst treatment of all captive animals in the world. If you’ve done what I’ve done and gone down a rabbit hole of videos of this, you’ll be beyond shocked.

There are only 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and more than half of Thailand’s 7,000 elephants still live in captivity, enduring daily beatings. So why do tourists continue to ride on the backs of captive elephants?

The main culprit is simply lack of awareness.

riding elephants

As travel has become more and more accessible over the past few decades, tourists and travel industry leaders have come face to face with the ethics of visiting a foreign country and what activities cross the line of being irresponsible and exploitative.

How is cuddling a lion cub or playing with an elephant or posing with a tiger anyway ethical?

In 2010 Intrepid Travel took the lead against standing up against elephant cruelty by partnering with World Animal Protection (who conducted extensive research on the treatment of captive elephants).

The results were shocking and Intrepid Travel became the first global travel company to ban riding elephants on their trips. Intrepid used to make a lot of money riding elephants until they realized how cruel a practice it was, and they stopped, heralding in a new era of responsible travel.

I really admire how Intrepid has owned up to this mistake; it speaks volumes about their ethics and backbone as a company. And hundreds of others have followed in their footsteps since and have banned riding elephants too. Talk about inspirational.

riding elephants

So what’s all the fuss about? Are elephant rides really that bad? 

I’ve been privileged enough to experience wild elephants on safaris in Africa and Asia, and trust me, you can’t get near them. In fact, elephant – human conflict is still a very real issue in many parts of the world.

People often think that an elephant in captivity is domesticated, and so somehow it’s okay to have them under human control.

But the reality is that elephants never have been domesticated. Even if born in captivity, they are still a wild animal and need to be ‘broken’ to accept human control.

 

If “breaking” an elephant sounds harsh to you, you’re not wrong. Baby elephants are taken from the wild and begin training immediately. Many times their mothers are killed in the poaching process, and if you’ve observed elephants in the wild you’ll see how cruel it must be to separate them – elephant babies stay with their moms for years, and the herds are incredibly social.

They are tied up and beaten with bullhooks until their spirit is broken and they obey their trainer to avoid more injury.

riding elephants

They spend their days carrying humans around on a tourist path which is not nearly enough exercise for these giant animals. Despite their large size, their anatomy is not suited to carry humans on their backs and many sustain long-term spinal injuries.

When the elephants aren’t working, they are usually kept in shacks and they’re bound by chains that can be so tight they can barely move. These social creatures are kept isolated from other animals and kept in solitary confinement until their next job.

Is it surprising some of them go berserk?

riding elephants

How can you help?

It’s truly an awful practice but as travelers, we have the power to change this.

You, right there, reading this blog. You hold the power. Elephant tourism simply cannot exist without the tourists so if it’s on your travel bucket list, it’s time to remove it.

Know a friend traveling to Thailand? Gently inform them of the severe cruelty captive animals face.

riding elephants

Most people who have ridden on the backs of elephants simply didn’t know anything about the animal’s treatment. Spreading the word works. Just 10 years ago riding elephants was incredibly commonplace but now, most seasoned travelers know the cruelty that lies behind the practice.

The more we talk the better. Many of my friends have ridden elephants in the past and regret it now. Many didn’t know better, and we’re not here to shame people, but rather use our collective voices to try and change how elephants are treated now and in the future.

riding elephants

So what to do if you’ve always dreamed of seeing elephants?

Keep this one rule in mind: If you can ride or touch an elephant, or watch it perform, chances are the elephant has been subjected to cruel training and is living in poor conditions and you should not further encourage the practice.

Thankfully, public awareness of cruelty to captive elephants has increased but unfortunately, many attractions are trying to dupe tourists by adding words such as “sanctuary,” “rescue center,” “refuge,” and “retirement facility” to their names.

riding elephants

HOW WE CHANGED THE ELEPHANT RIDING INDUSTRY

But the abusive training methods and deprivation are often the same and make the elephants follow the trainers’ commands to let people ride, feed, touch, or bathe them.

All those trendy Instagrammers standing by elephants at sunset? Think what it took to have that mighty creature beaten into submission to allow a person to stand there with them peacefully.

Do you research before visiting these places; riding elephants is cruel.

riding elephants

What can we do?

It can be hard to truly pin down the ethical tourism operators from the frauds but trust me, it’s worth doing the research.

Intrepid Travel is an industry leader when it comes to prioritizing animal welfare during their programs and if you still really want to have elephants be apart of your Southeast Asia trip, they offer programs that do so ethically. They are also inspiring many other tourism operators to follow in their footsteps, and they’re trying to change an entire industry.

Intrepid works with places like Elephant Valley Thailand, Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF) and Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), three of the high welfare venues doing great things for captive elephants.

At these venues, you can observe elephants from afar, where they are free to just be elephants and not performers.

Trust me, the best way to see an elephant is when it’s wild and free, just being happy funny creatures. I mean, elephants are hilarious! I love watching the babies trip over their trunks and getting scared by birds. They are so smart and fascinating to watch.

Consider joining safaris that are responsible and traveling with operators that put animal welfare first. I’ve seen elephants in the wild many times on my travels in Asia and Africa, and it never gets old. These are old and special creatures, with wise eyes that deserve respect.

We are living in an era when animal cruelty is being tolerated less and less and while we have made significant progress in the past decade, there’s still so much more work to be done with riding elephants.

riding elephants

Help us spread the word today on World Elephant Day by using #StopElephantRides and #WorldElephantDay but most importantly, speak with dollars by only supporting organizations who prioritize animal welfare and want to #BeKind.

Spill – have you ridden an elephant before and would you now? Have you seen some of these dodgy wildlife sanctuaries on your travels? Are you committed to protecting elephants too? I would love to hear more. 

riding elephants

The post Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants. appeared first on Young Adventuress.





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Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants.


It’s World Elephant Day, August 12th, which means it’s time for some real talk about riding elephants. Are you ready?

There was once a time, not even a decade ago, where riding an elephant in Southeast Asia was a pinnacle accomplishment in one’s travel diaries. The dreamy pictures of exploring the jungle on the backs of these massive wild giants.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s something that was always on my list to do one day, and live out all of my colonial safari fantasies.

It’s an idyllic image that has appealed to hundreds of thousands of tourists for a long time, me included, and no one really questioned it. Where did these elephants come from? How were they being treated? What was their quality of life?

riding elephants

In the late 1980’s, after logging was banned in Thailand, local elephant trainers turned their talents to tourism, inciting the elephant tourism boom we’ve seen on all of the travel blogs and in our Instagram feed today.

To the untrained eye, it looked harmless. You’d ride an elephant just like you’d ride a horse right?

How different can it be? What’s so different? If you’re like me, you grew up going to the circus and visiting the zoo, interacting with animals was fun and exciting, not many thought much further.

Even now, many of what we see online is slated with a “conservation” agenda designed to deter us from digging further. But how many baby elephants or lion cubs are really in need of rescuing?

In June National Geographic launched a massive exposé around the cruel reality of wildlife tourism.

riding elephants

The truth is what you might expect if you begin asking questions, hard and cruel.

For example, elephants who are broken in a process referred to as “the crush,” are trained to parade tourists around in a circle, receiving some of the worst treatment of all captive animals in the world. If you’ve done what I’ve done and gone down a rabbit hole of videos of this, you’ll be beyond shocked.

There are only 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and more than half of Thailand’s 7,000 elephants still live in captivity, enduring daily beatings. So why do tourists continue to ride on the backs of captive elephants?

The main culprit is simply lack of awareness.

riding elephants

As travel has become more and more accessible over the past few decades, tourists and travel industry leaders have come face to face with the ethics of visiting a foreign country and what activities cross the line of being irresponsible and exploitative.

How is cuddling a lion cub or playing with an elephant or posing with a tiger anyway ethical?

In 2010 Intrepid Travel took the lead against standing up against elephant cruelty by partnering with World Animal Protection (who conducted extensive research on the treatment of captive elephants).

The results were shocking and Intrepid Travel became the first global travel company to ban riding elephants on their trips. Intrepid used to make a lot of money riding elephants until they realized how cruel a practice it was, and they stopped, heralding in a new era of responsible travel.

I really admire how Intrepid has owned up to this mistake; it speaks volumes about their ethics and backbone as a company. And hundreds of others have followed in their footsteps since and have banned riding elephants too. Talk about inspirational.

riding elephants

So what’s all the fuss about? Are elephant rides really that bad? 

I’ve been privileged enough to experience wild elephants on safaris in Africa and Asia, and trust me, you can’t get near them. In fact, elephant – human conflict is still a very real issue in many parts of the world.

People often think that an elephant in captivity is domesticated, and so somehow it’s okay to have them under human control.

But the reality is that elephants never have been domesticated. Even if born in captivity, they are still a wild animal and need to be ‘broken’ to accept human control.

 

If “breaking” an elephant sounds harsh to you, you’re not wrong. Baby elephants are taken from the wild and begin training immediately. Many times their mothers are killed in the poaching process, and if you’ve observed elephants in the wild you’ll see how cruel it must be to separate them – elephant babies stay with their moms for years, and the herds are incredibly social.

They are tied up and beaten with bullhooks until their spirit is broken and they obey their trainer to avoid more injury.

riding elephants

They spend their days carrying humans around on a tourist path which is not nearly enough exercise for these giant animals. Despite their large size, their anatomy is not suited to carry humans on their backs and many sustain long-term spinal injuries.

When the elephants aren’t working, they are usually kept in shacks and they’re bound by chains that can be so tight they can barely move. These social creatures are kept isolated from other animals and kept in solitary confinement until their next job.

Is it surprising some of them go berserk?

riding elephants

How can you help?

It’s truly an awful practice but as travelers, we have the power to change this.

You, right there, reading this blog. You hold the power. Elephant tourism simply cannot exist without the tourists so if it’s on your travel bucket list, it’s time to remove it.

Know a friend traveling to Thailand? Gently inform them of the severe cruelty captive animals face.

riding elephants

Most people who have ridden on the backs of elephants simply didn’t know anything about the animal’s treatment. Spreading the word works. Just 10 years ago riding elephants was incredibly commonplace but now, most seasoned travelers know the cruelty that lies behind the practice.

The more we talk the better. Many of my friends have ridden elephants in the past and regret it now. Many didn’t know better, and we’re not here to shame people, but rather use our collective voices to try and change how elephants are treated now and in the future.

riding elephants

So what to do if you’ve always dreamed of seeing elephants?

Keep this one rule in mind: If you can ride or touch an elephant, or watch it perform, chances are the elephant has been subjected to cruel training and is living in poor conditions and you should not further encourage the practice.

Thankfully, public awareness of cruelty to captive elephants has increased but unfortunately, many attractions are trying to dupe tourists by adding words such as “sanctuary,” “rescue center,” “refuge,” and “retirement facility” to their names.

riding elephants

HOW WE CHANGED THE ELEPHANT RIDING INDUSTRY

But the abusive training methods and deprivation are often the same and make the elephants follow the trainers’ commands to let people ride, feed, touch, or bathe them.

All those trendy Instagrammers standing by elephants at sunset? Think what it took to have that mighty creature beaten into submission to allow a person to stand there with them peacefully.

Do you research before visiting these places; riding elephants is cruel.

riding elephants

What can we do?

It can be hard to truly pin down the ethical tourism operators from the frauds but trust me, it’s worth doing the research.

Intrepid Travel is an industry leader when it comes to prioritizing animal welfare during their programs and if you still really want to have elephants be apart of your Southeast Asia trip, they offer programs that do so ethically. They are also inspiring many other tourism operators to follow in their footsteps, and they’re trying to change an entire industry.

Intrepid works with places like Elephant Valley Thailand, Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF) and Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), three of the high welfare venues doing great things for captive elephants.

At these venues, you can observe elephants from afar, where they are free to just be elephants and not performers.

Trust me, the best way to see an elephant is when it’s wild and free, just being happy funny creatures. I mean, elephants are hilarious! I love watching the babies trip over their trunks and getting scared by birds. They are so smart and fascinating to watch.

Consider joining safaris that are responsible and traveling with operators that put animal welfare first. I’ve seen elephants in the wild many times on my travels in Asia and Africa, and it never gets old. These are old and special creatures, with wise eyes that deserve respect.

We are living in an era when animal cruelty is being tolerated less and less and while we have made significant progress in the past decade, there’s still so much more work to be done with riding elephants.

riding elephants

Help us spread the word today on World Elephant Day by using #StopElephantRides and #WorldElephantDay but most importantly, speak with dollars by only supporting organizations who prioritize animal welfare and want to #BeKind.

Spill – have you ridden an elephant before and would you now? Have you seen some of these dodgy wildlife sanctuaries on your travels? Are you committed to protecting elephants too? I would love to hear more. 

riding elephants

The post Going to Southeast Asia? Please be kind and don’t ride elephants. appeared first on Young Adventuress.





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