The Great Elephant Debate

India, Lost Girls RTW Adventure, Tours & Attractions, Wildlife & Animals — By on September 24, 2006 at 4:43 am

When our tour guide, Sunil, told us riding an elephant was believed to be able to change my luck, I was all game. After all, For Me magazine, where my monthly column chronicling my on-the-road adventures was scheduled to appear, had closed after only two of the five stories I’d written getting into print. I was hoping to find another publication that would give my column a home.

But one look at the elephants’ sawed off ivory tusks and chained ankles made my heart sink. As Amanda and Jen climbed the ladder to mount the towering elephants, I backed down, telling myself no matter how much my luck changed for the better, it wasn’t worth contributing to the slavery of this beautiful animal.

Am I reading too much into this tourist attraction and taking things too seriously? Does choosing to boycott the elephant ride really do anything at all?

What do you think about riding elephants, camels, etc: Hurtful or harmless?



  • M says:

    While riding an elephant itself is not a bad thing, all the domestication techniques are sad-removing the tusks,chaining the ankles,domestication and lack of freedom for a wild animal…I understand exactly how you feel.I myself probably would not ride the elephant because it is so high off the ground! Kudos to the brave few.

  • Karen says:

    Holly: Kudos to you for not following the herd of tourists.

  • Gill Bailey says:

    My mother and father did the Golden Triangle a few years ago. Although they loved India they too were a little surprised to make it back alive due to the driving conditions. A drugged busdriver and many close accidents. Thanks for the story.

  • jennifer weisz says:


    have you all been offered camel rides yet? when i was in india i went to see the taj mahal from behind–it’s actually quite amazing from the riverside–and there were guys selling camel rides to tourists. the camels had holes drilled through their noses for a stick to go through. the camel’s reins were tied to that stick through it’s nose. not fun to see.

  • Anonymous says:

    Elephants are naturally social animals and graze over great distances each day. Being chained up and separated from their families puts a lot of stress on them. They usually are taken from their mothers at young ages and physically abused in order to teach them commands.

    Sorry I didn’t get to post this earlier. Similar to the place Barbara was talking about is a great place called the Elephant
    Nature Park. Learn more at

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry, the website I gave above was incorrect. It is actually

  • Ida says:

    I didn’t ride on the elephant either, when I went to Thailand. They looked so tired! I’m sure they can carry the weight, but I wish there was another way we could ride them, without having to do any of the seemingly cruel things we’ve done, e.g. cutting off the tusks, and putting that contraption on top of them!