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Elephant Tourism in Thailand: A Review of Animal Welfare Practices and Needs

By Pakkanut Bansiddhi, Janine L. Brown, Chatchote Thitaram, Veerasak Punyapornwithaya, Korakot Nganvongpanit

Category Journal Articles

Elephant tourism in Thailand has developed into an important socio-economic factor after a logging ban initiated in 1989 resulted in thousands of out-of-work elephants. However, the welfare of captive elephants has been a topic of intense debate among tourists, scientists and stakeholders because of the range of working conditions and management practices to which they are exposed. The aim of this paper is to summarize the current state of knowledge on captive elephant welfare, with an emphasis on tourist elephants in Thailand, and highlight information gaps and recommendations for future directions. Tourist-oriented elephant camps could improve the welfare of elephants through better management practices that take into account physiological and psychological needs of individual animals, including meeting social and nutritional requirements, providing good health care, and maintaining adequate facilities. Our goal is to develop science-based guidelines that government agencies can use to develop an enforceable set of practical regulations to ensure good management of tourist elephants in Thailand.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 164-177
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2019.1569522
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Elephants
  2. Management
  3. Thailand
  4. Tourism and travel
  5. welfare