Animals Asia rescues elderly elephant from life of riding

13 January 2022

Animals Asia is delighted to announce that we have rescued another riding elephant in Vietnam. 

H’Blu is a 62-year old female Asian elephant who has spent decades being forced to give rides to tourists. She has never been able to express her natural behaviours, form bonds with other elephants, or roam and forage through the forest as she would in the wild.

After months of negotiations with her owners, Animals Asia and our partners at the Elephant Conservation Centre finally convinced them to relinquish H’Blu into our care at the Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak, where we run Vietnam’s very first, and so far only, ethical elephant project. 

The project is the result of years of discussions with the National Park, which used to offer elephant rides to tourists. It enables rescued elephants to roam the forest and exhibit their natural behaviours while tourists quietly observe from a respectful distance. 

Yok Don National Park is a vast, forested area in central Vietnam, and the second largest national park in the country. It covers an area of 600 square kilometers and has a unique ecosystem that harbours a vast variety of important and endemic species, so is the ideal location for rehoming former working elephants.

“With more and more people becoming aware of the cruelty involved in forcing such a large, wild animal to work for humans, and of the decline in wild elephant populations, we’re hopeful that the ethical tourist model will continue to grow and thus enable us to rescue more elephants.” Dave Neale, Animals Asia’s Captive Animal Welfare Director said.

Dave continued, “And with the Memorandum of Understanding Animals Asia signed with the Dak Lak government to end elephant riding, we’re confident that more elephant owners, communities, and eventually other countries, will want to be part of this pioneering program.”

H’Blu, whose name fittingly means ‘return home’ in Vietnamese, joins six  other former riding and working elephants at the park who were also rescued by Animals Asia.

She will spend the rest of her life roaming, foraging, swimming, napping, playing and deciding which elephants to interact with, while her mahout quietly follows her to ensure her continued safety and happiness. 

Read more:

Animals Asia Elephant Program Timeline

Animals Asia signs historic agreement to end elephant riding

The truth about elephant riding

National Park launches ethical elephant tourist model 

Recently rescued elephant Kham Phanh is loving sanctuary life!