TORONTO — With today being World Elephant Day, Intrepid Travel is once again leading the charge to shine the spotlight on these beloved animals.
As the first global tour operator to ban elephant rides on all its tours five years ago, Intrepid has partnered with local businesses and governments to provide alternative ethical animal-friendly activities for travellers that ensure safe conditions for elephants while still financially supporting locals.
Through its not-for-profit, The Intrepid Foundation, the company has donated more than AUD$146,798 to Friends of the Asian Elephant in an effort to conserve the welfare of Thai elephants. In total, Intrepid has supported over 4,500 sick and injured elephants, with nearly 100 elephants receiving treatment from Mobile Vets Project.
Since enforcing its ban, which came on the heels of World Animal Protection’s research in Southeast Asia in 2010 that revealed the impact elephant rides had on the animal’s physical and mental well-being, more than 200 other companies have since banned the practice.
For 2020, Intrepid Travel is encouraging more travellers to experience elephants in their natural habitat, including new tours that educate and support the first ethical elephant sanctuaries.
On its brand new ‘Thailand and Laos Adventure’, guests can witness the animals roaming and swimming at MandaLao, the first non-riding elephant sanctuary in Luang Prabang, Laos. Home to 11 elephants and 11 mahouts (elephant handlers), the facility works closely with World Animal Protection to not only promote ethical care and educate tourists, but also provide jobs and training in the local community.
Also available is the 11-day ‘Highlights of Thailand’, during which clients will visit ChiangChill, an organization that supports the protection, conservation and lifestyle of free roaming elephants in the area. The owner previously operated a venue that offered interaction with the elephants but has moved to this new ethical model following conversations with World Animal Protection.
For a more in-depth look into why Intrepid banned elephant rides, watch the below video:
Credit: Intrepid Travel