TRAVELLERS, BEWARE: ELEPHANT RIDES COULD RESULT IN TUBERCULOSIS

For Immediate Release:

2 August 2018

PETA Advises Tourists to Steer Clear of Rides in Light of Prevalence of Disease Among Elephants, Damning Revelations of Horrific Abuse in India

Sydney – After learning of the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) – which is highly contagious and transmissible from elephants to humans – among elephants forced to give rides at Amber Fort in Jaipur, India, PETA is issuing a travel advisory urging tourists not to make any contact with elephants, to stay away from the area, and to avoid all elephant rides. PETA India has also sent a letter calling on India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to direct the Rajasthan state government to quarantine all elephants who have tested positive for exposure to TB, provide them with urgent veterinary care, and screen all untested elephants forced to interact with the public for TB immediately.

The travel advisory follows an Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) report obtained through India’s Right to Information Act, 2005, which reveals that in addition to the 10 elephants working at Amber Fort who tested positive for TB exposure, many were found to be over 50 years old and 19 were observed to be visually impaired, endangering both themselves and the public. All were found to be suffering from various foot problems, including overgrown toenails and bruised footpads, and many displayed stereotypical behaviour patterns indicating psychological distress, such as repetitive swaying and head-bobbing. Additionally, the tusks of 47 elephants appeared to have been cut, in violation of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and likely have entered the illegal wildlife trade. And all the 102 working elephants inspected by the AWBI were seen carrying loads heavier than the legal maximum of 200 kilograms.

“Explosive reports of blind and potentially contagious elephants forced to carry back-breaking loads day in and day out are exactly why these rides must stop,” says PETA Director of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA’s urgent travel advisory is intended to protect both travellers and the sick, suffering elephants who are being denied much-needed veterinary care, putting everyone at risk.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – notes that just last year, an elephant used in India’s tourism trade was beaten so badly that the animal’s leg broke. And in June 2017, a group of American tourists at Amber Fort contacted PETA US to report seeing ride operators beating an elephant continuously for 10 minutes.

PETA and its international affiliates have recently persuaded dozens of travel companies – including TripAdvisor – to pledge not to promote elephant rides.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.au.

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