If You Love Elephants, Never Ride Them
“In lieu of riding elephants, I recently had the pleasure of bringing 70 of our clients to an elephant sanctuary in Phuket, Thailand to see some elephants who have been saved from this horrible reality. Part of the reason for this particular outing was to thank our clients for their years of business and their continual referrals to our agency. I also wanted to show them these magnificent elephants, in surroundings where they are now free. The other reason was to share and educate them on the barbaric tradition of Phajaan, or the ‘crushing’ of the elephant’s spirit for their use in the tourism and entertainment industries.” – Mary Jean Tully
The beautiful bond between elephants is something incredible to experience. They are loyal and compassionate animals. You can feel their personality as they play in mud baths and interact with the environment around them.
However, many tourists are not educated on the torture that these beautiful animals are put through in order to satisfy Western tourists passing through. Tourists visiting places like Thailand need to begin to educate themselves on elephant cruelty before a trip to the Land of Smiles. It is important to share and educate others on the barbaric tradition of Phajaan and its use in the tourism and entertainment industries.
Always be sure to visit trusted Elephant Sanctuaries, it is very rare to see advertised riding parks, but they are still out there and can be hidden in an itinerary.
1 | Wild Elephants Will Not Let Humans Ride Them
All wild animals need to be trained before they will perform for humans, but elephant training is particularly brutal. The ancient tradition of taming an elephant is called the Phajaan. It translates as ‘the breaking of the spirit.’
2 | They Have to be Trained as Babies
Calves are so young when they enter the Phajaan they’re still suckling from their mothers. Mothers and calves are forcibly separated. They will cry out for each other for weeks, but they will never be reunited.
3 | There's a Reason it's Nicknamed 'The Crush'
A key part of the Phajaan is a tiny pen. Calves are tied in tightly, fixed in a standing position. They are unable to walk, sit, lie down, or move in any way. They will remain here for up to a week, deprived of food and sleep.
4 | Torture Will Continue Until the Spirit Breaks
The pen alone is not enough to break an elephant’s wild spirit. They will be beaten, burned, and stabbed. Any object can be turned into a weapon, but bullhooks and a bamboo stick with a nail through the end are popular choices, targeting the most sensitive areas.
5 | Not All Baby's Spirits Can Be Broken
Half of the calves who go into the Phajaan do not survive it.
6 | Bull Hooks Are Key to Controlling Elephants
Discrete jabs in sensitive areas are a sharp reminder of the Phajaan. Just having one in the sight of an elephant is an intimidating threat.
7 | Elephants Backs Aren't Strong Enough for Humans
Horses have rounded vertebrae joints, whereas elephants have gaps along their spine which makes carrying weight very painful. Some argue elephants’ necks are strong enough to support one person, but the weight of a bench and multiple tourists on their backs is crippling.