We urge celebrities not to ride elephants

May 03 2017

We're asking Elizabeth Hurley not to ride elephants, as it is one of the world’s cruelest forms of wildlife entertainment.

British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley tweeted a photograph riding an elephant in South Africa during the shooting of a new film. It may not be known to Elizabeth and many tourists that over 500,000 wild animals suffer in the name of entertainment at tourist attractions every day. Behind the scenes, they endure cruel ‘training’ to make them submissive enough for people to ride on them.

We estimate that thousands of elephants across the world live in captivity and are used for tourist activities. Most of them are kept at venues with severely inadequate welfare conditions to provide elephant rides and shows for tourists. When not giving rides, or performing, most of the elephants are chained day and night. This life of captivity begins with severe trauma, with young elephants separated from their mothers before suffering a harsh training process to break their spirits. This makes them submissive enough to perform tricks and give rides to tourists.

Related: 9 things you need to know about that "once-in-a-lifetime" elephant ride

To bring an end to this cruelty, we've provided travel tips for tourists to look out for cruel animal attractions while on vacation. We also works with tour operators around the world to stop sending customers to cruel wildlife entertainment venues. Following our campaign, 166 travel companies across the world, including TripAdvisor, Contiki, Kuoni Travel UK and Jetair, have committed to no longer offer visits to venues with elephant rides and shows in any of their markets.

“It’s never acceptable to ride an elephant. All elephants used for entertainment suffer a cruel and intensive breaking-in process so they will be submissive enough to give people rides.  Their suffering continues throughout their lives in these cruel elephant camps. They are held captive in chains, beaten with metal bull hooks, and unable to form natural social bonds," said Kate Nustedt, our global wildlife director.

Next, take a look at this infographic for more information on how elephants are suffering to entertain tourists

“There are lots of opportunities for Elizabeth Hurley to see elephants in the wild in South Africa.  Now that she knows about cruelties of riding an elephant let’s hope she shows compassion and sets a positive example in the future.”