Elephant tourism

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“Elephant tourism in Thailand.” Acrylics on an 11″x14″ gallery wrap canvas.

Before I moved to Suphanburi, Thailand to teach EFL in October 2012, I attended the week long orientation with CIEE (the study/teach abroad program I went through). Part of the orientation included riding an elephant.

In Minnesota, the largest wild creature you’ll encounter is probably a moose or caribou if you venture north enough. And they will certainly not let you ride them.

It was awesome and terrifying.

I have mixed feelings about it. I am confident that if I travel back to Thailand I will not support the elephant tourism industry, and perhaps visit a reputable elephant rescue organization.

But I don’t regret riding the elephant.

It reminded me that the world is big and full of beauty. And to have a healthy respect for the wild things in it.

Especially the ones that can crush you.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Elephant tourism

  1. I completely agree with you. It is difficult subject. There is loads of people fighting against supporting animal tourism. I am not sure if these people were actually in non touristic places where there is poverty and kids have nothing to eat. I think that is a bigger problem to solve. In some places animal tourism is actually source of money what let’s them survive. You have lived in Thailand, what do you think?

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    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment. Yes, tourism is a big part of Thailand’s economy. I imagine animal tourism is not such an issue for people who are living in poverty in non-touristic places. If people have little to eat themselves, I doubt they can afford to house and feed a healthy elephant.

      I’m not in a position to say what we should or should not do. But I would encourage someone to try to spend their money responsibly while traveling. There are ways to hang out with elephants in Thailand without supporting unsavory animal living conditions. There are a few elephant rescue and conservation organizations where you can spend the day with elephants (which I think sounds way cooler than a 30-minute ride!).

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