VIDEO: Shocking footage a reminder to NEVER ride elephants on holiday

28 April 2017

Disturbing footage has come to light revealing the appalling treatment of tourism elephants in Indonesia.

A long-term investigation by the Scorpion Foundation – funded by Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation – into elephant rides in Indonesia has revealed mistreatment is rampant at facilities across the country.

The most shocking footage, taken in December last year at Taman Rimba Zoo, Jambi City, West Sumatra, shows a sick elephant being savagely beaten on the head.

The secret film caught the sickening thud of a metal bull hook striking the skull of the huge animal in order to ensure its compliance.

The investigation also reveals that at facilities across Indonesia, including tourism mecca Bali, working elephants spend most of their lives chained up.

To social animals like elephants, this is torture. They have little to no natural interactions with their own kind and are unable to express natural behaviours. Many of the individuals recorded during the investigation can be seen carrying out repetitive and pointless actions – a common sign of mental distress.

When finally unchained they must work under the vicious control of a mahout.

It is only through the threat of violence, represented by the spiked metal bull hook regularly slammed, bashed and hooked on their ears and heads, that these gentle giants conform.

In many parts of Asia, elephant rides are a common part of tourist attractions. From simple rides, to elephant-back jungle safaris to so-called sanctuaries, it’s easy to be taken in.

Particularly when taking place at a sanctuary or national park, many travellers are duped into believing their ride is innocent.

But it’s never that simple.

In front of their deceived customers, the mahouts are often subtle with their hooks, but once the crowds disappear, they can be absolutely brutal.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“This footage should be a reminder to anyone planning a trip to Asia not to be taken in by the innocent façade of elephant rides. You don’t see the chains, the hours of inactivity, the brutal training, the bull hook being used to its maximum – but believe what you see in the film – this is the reality. Every facility offering rides is doing this.

“The only way to avoid being part of systematic cruelty is to never take an elephant ride. At national parks insist on walking, be vigilant even at facilities advertising themselves as ‘sanctuaries’ and don’t let yourself be the reason an elephant suffers so dreadfully.”