Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) announced a victory this week after reaching an agreement with six tour operators to stop offering elephant rides. The recent push came after a Scottish tourist was trampled to death by an elephant in Thailand in February while on a planned trek.
“People know that elephants are highly intelligent animals,” said Stephanie Shaw, PETA’s corporate liaison in a statement. “They are important to people. People are not aware what these animals endure. All of these ritualized training sessions are designed to break these animals.”
While the practice is something PETA has been opposed to for some time, this most recent incident helped bring light to the issue. “We really believe we’re on the brink of this major industry shift, where we’re going to see it’s more common that tour providers reject these types of activities than affiliate with them and endorse them,” added Shaw.
Just last week, PETA got confirmation from Costco Travel who said they would stop offering elephant experiences as part of its tours. Five other tour operators—Alexander + Roberts, Butterfield & Robinson, Collette, First Festival Travel, and Mayflower Tours—have also agreed to eliminate elephant rides in the two months since PETA launched this campaign.