I have started a regular feature of animal videos to liven up your Mondays, but this is not one of them. This one is going to be a bummer, but I’m sharing it because it is important to be aware of what practices you might be supporting when you visit other countries.
tl;dr: don’t ride elephants when visiting countries like India and Thailand.
This practice is actually far easier to combat in the face of educational campaigns than many. This is not like trying to convince a different culture to stop using the medicine that they have been practicing for thousands of years because of conservation concerns, or trying to get people living in extreme poverty to stop poaching certain animals when it is their only source of income. Elephant rides are primarily requested by and offered to toursits who, ironically, love animals. If everyone knew of the kidnap and torture that is involved, the demand would drop, and far fewer elephants would be subjected to this treatment.
I understand the allure of elephant rides. Elephants are amazing creatures, and their intelligence and friendliness can be moving. However, if you really love elephants and want some interaction with them, think about helping out at an elephant sanctuary that rescues them from brutality instead. I know that has always been on my bucket list.