Elephants in Thailand go through good times. At least those that belong to the Happy Elephant Care Valley, in Chiang Mai, a Thai region.
The project is about to embark on a landmark agreement to become a truly elephant-friendly venue.
According to World Animal Protection or World Society for the Protection of Animals that has spent 30 years protecting animals. This move will end all physical interaction between tourists and elephants at the camp, to meet the growing demand for responsible elephant experiences, experts said.
World Animal Protection and travel company leaders are working with Happy Elephant Care Valley to transition their current camp to a high welfare, elephant friendly, venue where elephants will have the freedom to be elephants instead of entertainers.
The transformation of the venue was initiated by animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection as part of a coalition of leaders in the travel industry, including TUI Group, The Travel Corporation (TTC), Intrepid Group, G Adventures, EXO Travel, Thomas Cook Group, and others.
Organizations defending animals have previously denounced that in Thailand thousands of captive elephants in many venues still give rides that are the result of a cruel and intensive training process.
Global polls about the subject shows a significant drop of 9% (to 44%) in the number of people who find elephant riding acceptable compared to just three years ago. One of the polls also shows that more than 80% of tourists would prefer to see elephants in their natural environment, proving elephant-friendly tourism is on the rise.
The elephants at Happy Elephant Care Valley were previously from farms and riding camps. Until recently it was possible for close interaction between tourists and the elephants at the venue, with tourists being able to ride, bathe and feed elephants.
This stopped when the travel industry coalition presented a business case demonstrating the rise of elephant-friendly tourism.
Spokespeople for the project say that the transition will see the elephants able to behave as they would in the wild; free to roam the valley, graze and bathe in rivers as tourists experience these wonders, standing at a safe distance.