World Elephant Day: Choosing responsible animal experience venues abroad

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Ahead of World Elephant Day this Sunday (12 August), the Intrepid Group has called on travelers to be aware of venues offering responsible animal experiences abroad, and launched a new video highlighting the cruelty and violence that elephants suffer while being trained to be ridden by tourists, encouraging travelers to share this across social media channels with the hashtag #bekind

Intrepid was the first tour operator to abolish elephant rides on its trips in 2014.

With this weekend marking World Elephant Day, the company is advising travelers be aware of all places they visit abroad to ensure they are experiencing responsible wildlife interactions. Intrepid has compiled four simple points for travelers to bear in mind when viewing wild animals abroad:

1. Freedom to move without restraint. Are the animals free to move without restraint when not used for tourists? Can they interact with other animals on their own terms?

2. No signs of abuse or distress in the animals. Are the animals healthy and without wounds and not showing any behavioral problems? Do the animals seem calm but not apathetic?

3. Clean and natural husbandry conditions. Are the animals housed in a natural environment? Is the area kept clean?

4. Fresh and varied food available. Is fresh, unprocessed food available at all times? Can the animals forage natural food? Most animals also require free access to water at all times

Elephant welfare has been in the headlines again this week as a petition was launched to ban adverts for foreign holidays that involve rides or live shows with elephants. Intrepid advises that travelers concerned about elephant welfare choose not to ride elephants or patronize shows where the elephants are clearly made to perform unnatural or human-like activities. For those who see worrying activities, the company suggests politely voicing your concerns to the appropriate local tourism authorities.