78 Elephants In Thailand Have Been Permanently Set Free From Carrying Tourists Because Of COVID-19
March 26, 2020
As tourism plummets in Thailand due to the Coronavirus, the working elephants are being set free — for good.
All 78 elephants at Maesa elephant camp in Chiang Mai were set free on Wednesday morning as their owners scrapped the heavy wooden chairs that are tied to their backs for carrying tourists.
Camp director Anchalee Kalampichit said this was the first time in 44 years that the elephants had not worn the seats at the start of the day.
She said the park will now change their business to allow the elephants to roam freely in the grounds and operate as a place for visitors to observe the animals.
They will never wear chairs again.
“Since we entered the business in 1976, riding on the elephants has always been the favorite activity of tourists,” Kalampichit said.
“But because the Coronavirus has spread there have been fewer tourists and eventually the government ordered us to close so we have removed the chairs to liberate the elephants.
We are not planning to put the seat supports back on the elephants, even if we can operate again. We want to change the style of the place and find more natural ways that the public can enjoy the elephants.
We will welcome tourists to enjoy learning about the elephants’ ways of life naturally instead of using them to entertain the tourists.”
In Chiang Mai, where there are 93 elephant camps of varying size, government officials said that 85 of them were facing closure unless the situation improved.
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