World Animal Protection's team on a van with placards campaigning against elephant cruelty in tourism

Global petition urges Thai government to end elephant cruelty in tourism


On 27 May 2024, World Animal Protection presented a petition signed by over 172,000 people from 26 countries to Thailand’s Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, demanding an end to the cruel captive breeding of elephants for the tourism industry.

The petition aims to accelerate the passage of the Elephant Protection Bill, which has been stuck in the legislative process despite strong support from Thai voters since 2022. This bill, spearheaded by World Animal Protection Thailand, seeks to end the breeding of elephants for commercial and entertainment purposes, and the associated brutal training and performance practices. 

Hatai Limprayoonyong, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection Thailand, emphasised the importance of the international support:

"We are bringing over 60,000 signatures from within Thailand alone to show the Prime Minister that the world is watching and demands action." 

Elephants, known as Thailand's national animal and sacred in Buddhist culture, are often subjected to unimaginable cruelty in the tourism industry. Separated from their mothers at a young age, they endure extremely harsh training and forced performances, which can lead to lasting psychological trauma and dangerous behaviours. 

Studies show that elephants subjected to such conditions can develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, posing risks not only to themselves but also to their handlers and tourists.

Limprayoonyong highlighted the urgency:

"This is an opportunity for Thailand to restore its reputation as a compassionate tourist destination." 

The bill's passage is seen as crucial to ending the exploitation of elephants and ensuring their welfare. Once enacted, a dedicated committee will oversee its implementation, marking a significant step in safeguarding elephants. 

Eugenia Morales, World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Campaign lead, stressed the need for ongoing pressure:

"The international community has spoken. Now, we need sustained efforts to ensure the Elephant Protection Bill becomes law." 

This initiative is part of a broader campaign by World Animal Protection to end the commercial exploitation of wildlife globally. We are also calling on other governments to phase out wildlife farming and support alternative livelihoods for those affected by these changes. 

An elephant photographed close-up. The animal's face and left eye can be seen in great detail.

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An elephant is standing behind a fence and is reaching out to tourists with its trunk. The tourists are standing in front of the elephant taking selfies and pictures.

Bred for profit

Wild animals are exploited for profit across the globe. Millions are traded as pets, used as entertainment or tourist attractions, and turned into ornaments, luxury food, fashion products or traditional medicine.

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