Travel Advisory: Tourists at Risk of Contracting Tuberculosis From Elephant Rides

PETA Advises Travelers to Steer Clear of Elephant Rides Following High Prevalence of Tuberculosis, Damning Revelation of Horrific Abuses in India

For Immediate Release:
June 19, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Jaipur, India – After learning of a high prevalence of tuberculosis (TB)—which is very contagious and transmissible from elephants to humans—among elephants forced to give rides at Amber Fort in Jaipur, India, PETA is issuing a travel advisory urging tourists not to make any contact with elephants, to stay away from the area, and to avoid all elephant rides. PETA India has also sent a letter calling on India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to direct the Rajasthan government to quarantine the infected elephants, provide them with urgent veterinary care, and screen all untested elephants forced to interact with the public for TB immediately.

The travel advisory follows an Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) report obtained through the Right to Information Act, 2005, which reveals that in addition to the 10 elephants working at Amber Fort who tested positive for TB, many were found to be older than 50 years old and 19 were observed to be visually impaired, endangering both themselves and the public. All were found to be suffering from various foot problems, including overgrown toenails and bruised footpads, and many displayed stereotypical behavior patterns indicating mental distress, such as repetitive swaying and head-bobbing. Additionally, the tusks of 47 elephants appeared to have been cut in violation of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and likely have entered the illegal wildlife trade. And all the 102 “working” elephants AWBI inspected were seen carrying loads heavier than the legal maximum of 440 pounds.

“Explosive reports of blind, contagious elephants forced to carry back-breaking loads day in and day out are exactly why these rides must stop,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s urgent travel advisory is meant to protect both travelers and the sick, suffering elephants who are being denied much-needed veterinary care, putting everyone at risk.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—notes that just last year, an elephant used in India’s tourism trade was beaten so badly that the animal’s leg broke. And in June 2017, a group of American tourists at Amber Fort contacted PETA to report witnessing ride operators beating an elephant continuously for 10 minutes.

PETA has recently persuaded dozens of travel companies—including smarTours, STA Travel, and TripAdvisor—to stop promoting elephant rides.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind