This video is hard to watch. But anyone who’s thinking about paying for an elephant ride, performance, or other close contact needs to see it.
After baby elephants are torn away from their mothers (often following being kidnapped from the wild), trainers beat them mercilessly to break their spirits. The animals carry tourists on their backs, let strangers bathe them, paint pictures, and perform other confusing tricks on command, because they know what will happen if they don’t.
When adolescent elephants come out of musth, a natural mating period when testosterone levels rise, handlers will often beat them viciously, claiming that the abuse is necessary in order to keep control over them—even though the animals are already fearful and obedient.
In this video, captured by an undercover animal advocate in India, an elephant coming out of musth is beaten until his leg breaks. The handlers continue striking him until their canes break, too.
As animal advocacy groups work to expose the abusive training methods used on elephants, many businesses that exploit animals are changing their names to include words such as “sanctuary,” “orphanage,” “rescue center,” and so on. Don’t let them fool you. If you’re allowed close contact with elephants, their spirits have been broken and they’ve been terrified into following orders, most likely just as you saw in this video. After receiving information from PETA, more than 100 travel companies have stopped offering elephant excursions, which reflects the public’s growing recognition that breaking someone’s spirit is abuse, not tourism.
You weren’t supposed to see this footage. But now that you have, please make sure that everyone on your social media platforms has the opportunity to see it as well. And please, never participate in tourist excursions that profit from keeping elephants in captivity.