Costco Travel Commits to Ending Elephant-Encounter Offerings

PETA Thanks Agency by Sending Box of Elephant-Shaped Vegan Chocolates

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Issaquah, Wash.

Following a PETA appeal, Costco Travel—the tourism arm of the Issaquah-based retailer—has removed captive-elephant tours from its offerings and won’t offer any attractions with captive elephants in the future. PETA sent the agency a box of elephant-shaped vegan chocolates as thanks for its compassionate decision.

“Costco Travel made the right call in ensuring that none of its tours involve imprisoning, beating, or threatening elephants into performing tricks and giving rides,” says PETA Foundation Captive Animal Law Enforcement Counsel Rachel Mathews. “PETA urges tourists never to patronize elephant attractions and to stick to travel companies that have pledged not to offer them.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that elephant tourist attractions, common in Asia and Africa, employ trainers who often forcibly separate young elephants from their mothers and immobilize them with tightly bound ropes. Additionally in Asia, trainers routinely gouge them with nails or other sharp objects in a process known as phajaan, which is meant to break their spirits. Elephants who make it through the process spend the rest of their lives in servitude, lugging tourists around in sweltering temperatures and being jabbed and struck with bullhooks—weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp metal hook on one end.

Elephants can snap after a lifetime of stress and deprivation. In Thailand alone, captive elephants have caused about a dozen tourist deaths in the past 15 years. Elephant attractions also present health risks: Tuberculosis, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, is transmissible from elephants to humans and has been documented in elephants throughout Asia.

Costco Travel joins more than 100 travel companies—including Mayflower Tours, Responsible Travel, Butterfield & Robinson, G Adventures, and Collette—that have said that they won’t offer activities involving captive elephants.

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