Elephant Riding in Ayutthaya

One of the most popular activities for foreign tourists when they come to Thailand is to ride an elephant. I must admit, that was one of the first things that I did. I joined a jungle trek in Chiang Mai and on the second day we rode an elephant through the jungle for a couple of hours. I took this picture in Ayutthaya where you can ride these elephants around the ancient ruins. But be warned, most don’t offer seat straps and some tourists have slipped and fallen to their death before. You also need to consider the health of the elephant. They are not “designed” to carry heavy loads on their backs or walk along concrete roads. Do some research on the internet first before you decide to visit an elephant show or ride an elephant.

1 comment for “Elephant Riding in Ayutthaya

  1. August 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

    To say elephants are not “designed” for riding would mean you would also have to say horses were not designed for riding. Millions of people ride horses the world over and elephants are much larger and stronger than horses!
    Elephants do require various strata to keep there feet healthy which is why at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace they walk on dirt. They also are extremely well looked after with plenty of food and water, showers and they even work on roster so they have plenty of time off as well. The elephants here work to support many that cannot such as dangerous and killer elephants that we take care of which have no where else to go. We also have a breeding program and the vast majority of our mothers have been working giving rides and we are proud to say we have had 52 successful births since 2000.
    Last century tens of thousands of elephants were employed in the logging industry due to the high demand for teak in many western countries. When logging was banned in the late 1980’s elephant numbers reduced drastically. Tourism became the only viable alternative and today there are less than 4,000 elephants left in Thailand.
    Giving rides to tourist is easy work especially when compared to logging, where elephants were often required to haul over one ton logs at a time over extremely rugged and steep territory.
    If tourists are discouraged from taking rides we can expect to see a further reduction in elephant numbers. At this stage statistics are that in 30 years time elephants will have died out, and certainly the anti riding attitude is reinforcing and ensuring that will happen.

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