Please don’t ride the elephant:

It’s painful for her & risky for you!


“Riding elephants is painful.” It doesn’t seem possible! How can it hurt if my small child rides a huge animal like an elephant?

“Riding elephants is risky.” How can this be?! Why would the state and USDA allow people to ride if it weren’t safe?

Unfortunately, as hard as it may be to believe, riding Nosey — or any elephant — is both cruel and risky.

Here’s why.

Nosey giving rides, Davenport, Iowa, May 22, 2016 - photo courtesy Kim (Born Torun)

Training = Breaking

Elephants are intelligent, emotional animals, with a well-developed sense of self and an intensely strong bond with their families. They do not naturally allow people to ride them. Whether they are born in captivity or in the wild, they must be emotionally and mentally “broken” before they will accept loads on their backs. Their training starts at a young age. For Nosey, it was when she was only around six years old. Training methods vary, but all require physical and mental coercion and control, and some are brutally abusive. Breaking also serves to destroy the natural bond between the elephant calf and its own kind, and to transfer that bond to the human owner. The animal learns that it must obey her handler or face the consequences. This is ONLY way humans can gain control over elephants!


Unnatural Living Conditions

Elephants like Nosey who are hauled around the country to give rides or perform have it  bad. They are chained when not working, and when giving rides they are forced to move extremely slowly and take small steps around the ring for human safety. This unnatural gait can worsen foot and joint problems. They are rarely allowed to walk freely, are often fed poor diets, and are constantly subjected to circus music and noise. In the U.S., elephants who give rides are usually solitary, with no elephant companions.


Chance of Disease

Although small, there is a documented risk of contracting tuberculosis or other bacterial infections from close contact with sick elephants. Elephant owners are not required to test for TB, so even a “clean bill of health” from the USDA or other government agency doesn’t guarantee an animal is free of disease.


Anatomy of an Elephant

Elephants are designed to push — not to pull or carry — and most of their strength is in their neck, trunk and head. The specific structure of their spines allows them to support their own weight “down below” but NOT weight on their backs. With the saddle, Nosey regularly carries well over 300 pounds, which puts a tremendous amount of stress on her delicate spine. The saddle also can cause chafing and pressure sores, and the thin blanket does little to ease the pain.


Danger of a Fall or Throw

Elephants giving rides are elephants under stress! They are also often in pain, and are always fearful of being corrected by the bull hook if they put a foot wrong. So there is a real danger of an angry outburst due to a mental breakdown. A physical collapse from pain or extreme heat, a trip or stumble, or even just a slip of the riding saddle can also lead to human injuries.


It's Just No Fun

Elephant rides are slow, short, and boring! Why not give your children something more interesting to do … and teach them compassion for elephants at the same time? Thank you!