PSA: Elephant Riding

I am generally not one to randomly bash what other people do on their vacations, I came across a very disturbing post today on Million Miler Secrets regarding a trip to India and an elephant ride. To properly understand my problem with this, it’s first important to understand some things about elephant anatomy.

Elephant Anatomy

Asiatic Elephant Skeleton
From Wikipedia: Richard Lydekker – Royal Natural History Volume 2 (Available on

The spine of an elephant has evolved over time to support weight that is suspended downward, not placed above onto it. Additionally the soles of their feet are not shod in any form, as you would a horse, leading to severe damage over time. This also leads to grinding against the bones on their feet.

In many parts of the world the treatment of these creatures is extremely suspect between what is known as the “crush”, forced breeding of females, and the elephants having to walk on surfaces that they are not accustomed to.

Ethical Experiences

That said, there are many ethical experiences available to you if you want to spend time with these marvelous creatures. Tiffany, over at OneMileAtATime posted of one such sanctuary in Thailand —  Elephant’s World. For roughly 70 USD per day, per person, you can spend time taking care of elephants that have been rescued.

Just some food for thought!