Over 70 elephants 'freed' from elephant rides in Thai camp as Covid-19 disrupts business

It was the first time in over 40 years that the elephants did not have to carry a heavy load on their backs.

Sumita Thiagarajan| March 28, 08:52 AM

All 78 elephants at the Maesa elephant camp in Chiang Mai were freed from having to carry heavy wooden and metal chairs used to carry tourists for elephant rides.

A Facebook post by the park noted that they were sourcing for donations to the Elephant Conservation Foundation in Bangkok.

The elephants at the camp in northern Thailand have been used for elephant rides for tourists for over 40 years.

While the park had already planned to phase out elephant riding, the Covid-19 pandemic, which drastically reduced demand for the attraction from tourists, accelerated those plans.

According to CNN, the park was closed on Monday, March 23, after they saw a steep decline from hundreds of tourists a day to less than 20.

Elephants finally 'freed' after 44 years

The practice of elephant rides and elephant training has come under fire in the past by animal advocates who aimed to expose the cruel practices behind the industry.

According to Business Insider, elephants used for tourism have been mistreated as they have been chained, pierced with bull hooks and placed under physical and mental stress.

With the disruption in business, the company will change its business model and allow the elephants to roam freely in the premises, where visitors will be able to observe them.

According to the same CNN article, for many of the elephants this will be the first time they won't have to wear seats for tourists.

They will not put the seats on the elephants again even after they reopen.

Image from Facebook