Authorities in Cambodia have banned elephant rides within the area of Angkor temple park, a popular tourist destination that has been a subject of controversy for years due to the poor treatment of animals associated with it.
In the tourist hotspot, which reached over 6 million visitors in 2018, tourists have commonly resorted to cruel elephant rides to get around without understanding or failing to care about the poor treatment and beatings elephants used for transport are subjected to.
The decision to ban elephant rides follows years after animal rights activists started advocating for better treatment of gentle giants.
According to the conservationists who were surprised that the authorities finally listened to their plea, the practice is set to “end by the start of 2020.”
As Apsara Authority, the agency that manages the archeological site of Angkor, announced, the elephants should live in their natural habitat, the jungle, whereas tourists will be offered alternative methods of transportation around the site.
In addition, the government-run agency claimed they would help their elderly animals find a new home in the jungle.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore. They will live out their natural lives there,” a spokesperson for the Apsara Authority, Long Kosal, said.
To prove that they are serious about the ban, the Apsara Authority has already moved five working elephants to a jungle far away from the temple where they used to work as of this writing.
Besides Cambodia, other countries that have long been slammed over controversial elephant rides and elephant performances include Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
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