I absolutely LOVE Thailand. I love the food, the mountains, the beaches, the kind hearted smiling people that stop in their tracks to ask if you’re lost and need directions. I have been asked more times than I can count on both hands if I need help by those kind smiling faces. I have felt so welcomed by the mom-like hotel and food stand workers. Thailand is wonderful.
I also strongly dislike the animal exploitation because of tourism. The way these animals are taken is abhorrent. I passed 5 macaques tied on a very short chain these last two days, 3 of which were babies, meaning they must’ve killed the mom to take it away.
I also passed three baby elephants on the way up to see the big Buddha in Phuket, also tied on very short chains.
One of the men even asked me if I wanted to feed the baby bananas and have it give me a kiss while I have my picture taken with it. All for $2.50. No! It’s just so wrong that us tourists are so eager to have our selfies with WILD animals to the point that we are okay with seeing the mahouts pinch the baby elephant’s ear in order to get it to kiss you.
And then the poor elephants being ridden with the mahout clearly holding a bull hook in their hand and 3 people to an elephant with their back bone being crushed by the stupid human holder on their back.
Sorry for the rant. I’m generally very positive, but the prodding hook was clear as day in the mahout’s hand and elephants are beautiful, kind, compassionate, and full of personality. They do not belong in captivity with selfie hungry tourists.
The last macaque that I saw, tied up on a short chain at a restaurant with a beautiful view of Phuket was unfortunately showing signs of distress and pulling its hair out.
It killed me to see this behaviour and not be able to help it reduce its discomfort. I have reached out to a few organizations to see if they can be rescued, but these are macaques that I found out of pure luck. How many others are in Thailand suffering the same fate?
When I saw the macaques and elephants tied up I felt claustrophobic. Do the tourists not feel the same? Seeing the chain around the macaques neck without any grass under it made me so agitated. I felt like I was choking when I was driving away from them.
Also, Asian elephants generally walk an average of 10 miles a day. To be constricted on short chains all day is maddening. Imagine if you were put on chains all day. We don’t even average those 10 miles a day, but being tied up all day would surely make us lose our minds.
I would just love for all humans to ask themselves when they see a captive animal, how that animal got there. Is it allowed to behave as it would in the wild? Is there a money hungry owner exploiting that animal? From fish tank pedicures (yuck), dove releases at temples, elephant riding, and reptile shows. Please don’t just coast through life without asking questions. Ask google to show you what phajaan (breaking the spirit) is. Or click on this phajaan in order to see what happens to every captive elephant.
I also do not think the mahout’s are the villains that us bleeding heart animal activists think they are. Have any of us ever spoken to a mahout? Have we ever surveyed the Thai population and asked them how difficult it is for them to put food on their family’s table? When scarcity is a prominent factor, what kind of bad decisions have we made? Do we shop at places that use sweat shops and child labour? (Ahem…Walmart shoppers)
Lastly, participating in animal exploitation just because the masses are doing it and it seems like you not riding the elephant doesn’t make a difference is a cop out thing to do. We all have the ability to shake the world in a gentle way! If you want to see elephants in Thailand then check out Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, Elephant Nature Park ,or BEESanctuary.