Respected animal conservation organization, World Animal Protection, www.worldanimalprotection.org, formerly known as WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), recently unveiled extensive research that determines Asian elephant rides and other entertainment activities in several Asian countries cause pain, suffering and injury to these animals. Intrepid Travel, www.intrepidtravel.com, has worked with this animal charity since 2000, and based on the newly-released research findings, the tour operator has decided to end all elephant rides and visits to entertainment venues on its trips. The findings come out of a three-year research process to assess the welfare of captive elephants at entertainment venues in Asia.
Asian elephants are highly endangered and tourism demand has led to venues where elephants are forced to do unnatural performances. The research concludes that this causes indisputable pain and suffering to these animals. The report further concludes that the tourism industry has added to the number of elephants being poached from the wild.
Rescued injured Asian elephant in Thailand. Kat Cayley
At a rescue center, this elephant gets a little loving encouragement. WSPA
According to Intrepid Travel, the change has been popular with its travelers. It is encouraging travelers to seek animal-friendly travel options in order to drive industry change. Learn more about the company’s elephant welfare guidelines and see which countries Asian elephants call home, particularly notable being Malaysia, Thailand and Burma.
Over the past 11 years, The Intrepid Foundation, Intrepid Travel’s not-for-profit fund, has donated more than $430,000 to animal and wildlife conservancy projects including Friends of the Asian Elephant in Thailand and Animal Care in Egypt. “Responsible travel has been central to how we’ve run Intrepid for 25 years,” says Intrepid Travel co-founder, Geoff Manchester. “Our focus is on educating our clients and teaching local communities about animal welfare and environmental conservation.
“While we once included elephant rides or entertainment venue visits, we’re now working with animal rehabilitation and sanctuary facilities. We hope that the increased patronage of our groups to more commendable venues like this will help encourage other tour operators to re-assess their standards as we have done. As an industry we can and should do more to help protect wild animals from cruelty,” he concludes.
Asian elephant at an entertainment venue. Jane Crouch