Between 2014 and 2016, we investigated 220 elephant tourist attractions across Asia. 

We uncovered horrifying evidence, exposing the way thousands of elephants are treated to entertain tourists:  

  • Big industry: there are more than 3,000 captive elephants in tourism in Asia. Our Taken for a ride report studied 2,923 of them 
  • Entertainment over welfare: 96% of venues offering rides keep their elephants in cruel and unacceptable living conditions
  • Hub for cruelty: Around three quarters of the elephant entertainment venues we studied were in Thailand. There’s been a 30% increase in the number of captive elephants in Thailand in just five years 

These numbers represent the shocking reality of life for thousands of wild animals. The 2,923 elephants we studied are each suffering a lifetime of misery. 

But by making tourists aware of these facts, we can change the world for elephants.

In 2016, over 150,000 supporters united to show the industry just how many people won’t stand for elephant cruelty in tourism. 

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An elephant holds a tourist in his trunk, while other people take photos

There are a growing number of elephant-friendly alternatives which don’t allow direct contact with elephants. These are much more humane for elephants.  

The elephant entertainment industry must take note of tourists’ outrage, and put elephants’ welfare first. 

Undeniable cruelty 

For baby elephants in tourism, the trauma begins when they’re stolen from their mothers shortly after birth. 

They’re brutally ‘trained’ to become submissive enough to give rides and perform tricks. They’re often hit with hooks or other tools during this time until their spirits are broken.

After this initial disturbing and painful process, elephants are ready to begin their miserable lives as tourist entertainers. They’re kept on concrete floors and bound by chains when not performing, are fed poor and unnatural diets, and receive limited veterinary care. 

Unite for change 

Together, we can help people make informed choices, and pressure the tourism industry to change. 

Read more on our interactive digital report.

Read more for the full report.