Inhumane Exploitation: Aging Elephant’s Spinal Deformity Reveals the Dark Side of Tourist Trade


An elephant named Boon Peng, who had been carrying tourists on its back throughout its life, has been found to have a severely deformed spine at the age of 71. The elephant had been working at the Maesa Elephant Camp in Thailand, a popular tourist destination where visitors can ride elephants.

Boon Peng started working at the camp when she was only seven years old, and had been carrying tourists on her back for over 60 years. The camp had been her home for most of her life, and she had developed a close bond with her mahout, or caretaker.

However, her years of carrying heavy loads had taken a toll on her body, and she was found to have a severely deformed spine during a routine health checkup. The condition, known as kyphosis, causes the spine to curve outward, resulting in a hunchback appearance.

Boon Peng’s condition highlights the cruel treatment of elephants in the tourism industry, where they are often subjected to harsh working conditions and mistreatment. Many elephants are taken from the wild and forced to work in camps like Maesa, where they are trained through physical abuse and deprived of their natural habitat.

This tragic incident underscores the importance of responsible tourism and the need to protect these majestic animals. While riding elephants may seem like a fun and exciting experience for tourists, it comes at a great cost to the animals. As travelers, we must choose to support ethical and sustainable tourism practices that prioritize the well-being of animals and their natural habitats.

Boon Peng’s story is unfortunately not unique. Elephants and other animals in the tourism industry are often subjected to harsh conditions and mistreatment for the sake of entertainment. Many tourists are unaware of the suffering that goes into providing these experiences, and it is up to all of us to educate ourselves and make more responsible choices when traveling.

One way to support ethical tourism is to avoid activities that involve animal exploitation altogether. Instead of riding elephants, visitors can observe them in their natural habitat or participate in responsible elephant sanctuaries where the animals are treated with care and respect.

Another way to support animal welfare is to research and choose tour operators and accommodations that prioritize sustainability and animal welfare. Look for certifications such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council or the Animal Welfare Approved label.

Ultimately, it is up to us as travelers to make a difference and demand better treatment for animals in the tourism industry. By making conscious choices and supporting responsible tourism practices, we can help protect the welfare of animals like Boon Peng and ensure a more sustainable future for all.



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