Thailand is undeniably a favourite holiday destination for tourists from around the world, many of whom include visits to elephant attractions where they can ride, wash, feed and watch them perform. Unfortunately, most tourists don’t realise the horrific and continuous abuse these elephants suffer for their amusement and pleasure.

Earlier this year in an effort to create awareness of their plight, Twitter user Abang Da Balik posted distressing photos of the scars and wounds, some dripping with blood, on the animals’ heads and bodies where their handlers hit them with sharp metal hooks.

 These horrific images have gone viral again which prompted a response from the Tourism Authority of Thailand whose spokesperson told Yahoo news they don’t support these businesses and urges tourists not to ride the elephants or support these attractions.

According to World Animal Protection estimate 3,000 elephants are currently used as tourist attractions in Asia of which at least 77% are treated inhumanely.

Only wild elephants are protected under law while the domesticated animals are considered to be ‘’working animals’’. Baby elephants are taken from their mothers and spend the rest of their lives abused into submission, beaten with bull hooks and other sharp tools.

Wildlife Veterinarian of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Dr Patrapol Maneeorn says Thailand is working hard to eliminate animal cruelty in the country and they are working with different organisations in Thailand to reduce and eliminate animal cruelty.

 ‘’Travel businesses and individual tourists can help government agencies by boycotting businesses that do not take good care of animals’’, he continued.

There are some sanctuaries, like Elephant Valley where the animals roam free and only fed by humans once daily. There are not many sights quite as captivating as seeing these magnificent animals roaming free. May this become the new normal for the elephants of Asia.

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