If you have not read Suzanne (click here) and Luke’s posts (click here) yet, you should start by reading them. They did an amazing job summarizing our week at the Elephant Nature Park and what we learned about the Asian Elephant and their plight.
We were all deeply impacted by what we learned about the treatment of these elephants around the world. If I’m honest, until a few weeks ago I was a little disappointed we weren’t going to get to ride on the back of an elephant. Now after learning and seeing videos of what is done to a baby elephant to break it so it can be ridden or perform in a show, I am embarrassed and ashamed for ever having considered riding an elephant.
When you see an elephant being ridden by humans or performing tricks for onlookers, they have been “trained” in a Phajaan “ceremony”. This is done to baby elephants who are taken from their mothers. The elephant is tied in a small cage that does not allow them to move at all. It is literally meant to crush their bodies. The elephant is then beaten, poked with nails, sleep-deprived and starved for up to a week. This process is to purposely break their spirits so that when they are released they are fearful and obedient to Humans (Thank you Alexa for this explanation of the Phajaan). As you would expect many elephants die during this process. This is the only way that elephants are trained. Even Asian elephants you see in the United States or other parts of the world have been broken in this way.
This video shows you an elephant in the Phajaan being broken. I will warn you it is very graphic and disturbing but when we saw this video, we knew we had to help spread the word about what is STILL happening.
I learned a lot this week. Most importantly, I learned I will never ride an elephant or go to an elephant show or any other wild animal show where humans are interacting with wild animals. I would like to encourage you to do the same. If you want to learn more about what the Elephant Nature Park is doing to help some of these animals who have been saved and also how to help stop this practice please check out these places and people.
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Lek Chailert – She founded the park and is a leading activist for elephants.
elephantnaturepark – This is the website to learn more about this park and the elephants.