Animal tourism in Thailand practices brutality for fun

Published on : Friday, February 5, 2016

Animal tourism in ThailandThe death of the British tourists who was trampled by an elephant while taking a picture with the animal along with his daughter has given animal tourism in Thailand a fearful image. There have been six fatal elephant attacks over the past six months in Thailand and the country needs to evaluate the risk it is taking in making the wild animals an object of cheap entertainment.



Very often we find tourists bringing back with them pictures hugging tiger cubs who peacefully lie as if oblivious of what might be going on with them. One wonders what this lethargy in the otherwise wild and agile beasts can be attributed to.



The animals are fed all day by tourists and bottle fed over and over again with four afternoon feeds by the authorities. Most animals feel slow and lazy but being the wild beasts they are, tourist molesting cases are not uncommon.


There are claims that the tigers are often sedated especially in the areas where you can pay to get a close snapshot with the tiger. They are chained so close to the ground that they cannot properly stand up. They are treated mercilessly by the authorities as employees dangle raw meat above the tigers to tease them and also splash cold water on their faces to wake them for close pictures with tourists.



These details have been used from an article written by Cody & Giselle of Mindful Wanderlust, where they also wrote that the animals are treated with the greatest brutality. Their claws are removed along with their teeth. “The tendons in their wrists are clipped so they can’t swat or run with a lot of speed to ensure that tourists are not harmed when visiting.”


Most tigers suffer from various complications such as pacing back and forth and self mutilation according to the observation of Cody & Giselle and distance themselves from their natural behaviour owing to the conditions they are kept in. Small cages where they spend hours restrict their movement.


Despite all these measures to make the wild cats docile the inherent instinct sometimes gives way to the wild urges within the animals and mauling and injuring tourists are common cases heard in the temple. Tourists are made to sign a waiver relieving the Tiger Temple of all responsibilities before entering the grounds of the sanctuary. They are advised not to wear bright clothes, sunglasses, hats or kneel in front of the tiger.




Critics claim the so called Temple is nothing but a money minting profit making place which claims conservation. According to a report by Care for the Wild the place practices illegal tiger trade followed by cruel treatment towards the beasts. The type of tiger being bred here is the captive and a hybrid genetic type that does nothing to increase the tiger population. The setup fools many tourists who are happy with what they see and seldom ponder on what goes on behind to get the naturally aggressive beast to act listlessly.


Elephants rides offered are a pleasure for most tourists as the otherwise docile animal charms tourists with its majestic gait and gives holiday makers a good experience for what they pay. However the elephants too go through brutish training. The babies are taken away from their mothers and forced to take savage training known as ‘crush’ where they are restrained in small cages and beaten. This kind of a treatment often triggers dangerous and unpredictable reactions from them.


The tourist from Scotland was killed by an elephant which apparently turned ‘musth’, a periodic condition characterised by a rise in reproductive hormones that can make bull elephants violent. They become unpredictable at such a time. The tourist fell prey to this erratic mood of the beast and lost his life. Its mahout tried to stop the animal with a spiked stick, which was strongly contrary to Thailand’s animal right laws. Most of the 80 elephant camps which hold some 2,800 elephants are not properly regulated.


The country does have strict animal laws that are meant to protect the interest of the animals which protects them from performing in animal shows, but these rules are directed in protecting the rights of dogs and cats instead of the wild beasts. There are laws for the welfare of elephants which include the beast of burden act and the tourism department’s guidelines for the elephant management camps. Thai government claims that it takes these issues on the cruelty of animals seriously, but one wonders how such incidents continue to happen if the laws are really stringent. Not just tigers and elephants but in the outskirts of the capital there is a zoo where orangutans are made to box each other for the entertainment of onlookers. Thailand needs to look at its laws more closely and make them more instrumental. Tourism is important but at the cost of these helpless animals — don’t think this sort of animals tourism can at all be supported.

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3 Responses to Animal tourism in Thailand practices brutality for fun

  1. Kate Stone says:

    This article has made me sick to the pit of my stomach. There is no place in 21st century for such cruel and outdated practices. Wild animals need to be in their own natural environment where they can roam wild as nature intended. Travel Agents need to be aware of what suffering these sickening practices incur for the poor creatures and boycott all. If the majority of the public could see the elephants being beaten into submission then they might not be so keen to participate and have that photo memory moment.

  2. Christel says:

    This is tragic. How can we make it stop? Something needs to be done right away – so inhuman. Since this article has been written, why cant the author go to the authorities and have them stop this kind of treatment??

  3. Albert Nunes says:

    It is always nice and thrilling to see wild animals in real life. To be able to touch them and show love for them is always nice. However, we have to realize that these animals are often mistreated and trained under torture with brute force by their keepers purely to generate money and the pain and suffering that these animals experience can only be held within for so long a time that soon or later they explode. These animals like us humans wants to roam freely and keeping them in cages may work for a short time but even we humans do not want to be caged so why would they. The best thing to do is to have sanctuaries where these animals can be seen in their natural habitat. A drive through in vans or buses or car will give us great exposures as is to these fine animals and allow them freedom to express their true self.

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