We travel to visit the sites, taste the flavors, meet the locals, learn the culture—and sometimes, see the animals. EF is relentlessly committed to respecting and promoting animal welfare as we help our customers experience the world.
With a growing demand for immersive, off-the-beaten-path travel experiences, the travel industry has seen a rise in animal-related practices that we’re not comfortable with. To combat this, EF is proud to work with World Animal Protection to implement animal welfare guidelines throughout all our travel programs worldwide—because truly experiencing a destination should not mean harming the animals that call it home.
The elephant tourism industry is one of the biggest offenders of animal cruelty. Thousands of elephants are used in tourist venues across Asia that offer elephant rides and other forms of entertainment, and the vast majority of these elephants are exploited, abused, and kept in unacceptable conditions.
While most people visit these venues (which are sometimes called orphanages or parks) out of a love for the animals, they don’t realize the inhumane conditions that the elephants face. Venues that offer rides and performances separate the young from their mothers unnaturally early and employ inappropriate physical interventions to “break their spirit” so the animals will obey the handlers. When the animals are not partaking in these tourist entertainment activities, they’re often shackled indoors without comfort measures or proper veterinary care.
In 2018, EF took an elephant-friendly travel pledge and immediately removed all elephant rides and performances from our tours. Moving forward, we will never offer elephant rides to our travelers or work with suppliers who offer them in any capacity.
On some of our tours, we offer experiences that bring you to elephant parks that are dedicated to conservation; you won’t find elephant rides or elephant performances of any kind on any EF travel program. For example, on our Thailand: The Golden Kingdom tour, you’ll visit an elephant camp that works toward conservation efforts and ending mistreatment. Here, you can watch elephants feed, bathe, and interact with each other in their normal social patterns, and learn about the majestic creatures. During our African safaris, you’ll take game drives through the national parks in hopes of spotting the gentle giants in their natural habitats.
The best thing that all of us can do is to get educated (and we’re not just saying that because education is in our DNA). The animal cruelty issues that arise in tourism can be curbed and someday stopped with the spread of knowledge. So ask questions, work with people and companies you trust, and see the world at its most authentic.
Read more about how we work with World Animal Protection here.