We travel to visit sites, taste flavors, meet locals, discover cultures—and sometimes, to learn about local wildlife. As a world leader in international education, EF is relentlessly committed to respecting and promoting animal welfare as we help our travelers experience the world.
With the best interests of our furry (and fuzzy, and slimy, and scaly) friends in mind, EF is proud to collaborate with the nonprofit organization World Animal Protection. Together, we work 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.
EF’s elephant-friendly travel pledge
Unfortunately, many suppliers in the travel industry choose to prioritize profits over animal welfare, especially when it comes to elephant protection. The elephant tourism industry is one of the biggest offenders of animal cruelty. Elephant rides are a popular tourist activity throughout Asia, where thousands of elephants are used for entertainment. Sadly, the vast majority are exploited, abused, and kept in unacceptable conditions.
Most people visit these venues (sometimes called orphanages or parks and even masked as sanctuaries) out of love for the animals, but don’t realize the inhumane conditions the elephants face. Elephants involved in rides and performances are separated from their mothers prematurely, and are often beaten. When they’re not partaking in tourist entertainment activities, they’re often shackled indoors without comfort measures or proper veterinary care.
In 2018, EF signed World Animal Protection’s Elephant Friendly Pledge: We immediately removed all elephant rides and performances from our tours and made the commitment that, moving forward, we will prioritize elephant protection and never offer elephant rides to our travelers or work with suppliers who offer them in any capacity.
So what kind of elephant activities will you find on our tours?
You won’t find elephant rides or performances of any kind on any EF travel program. Instead, we offer tours that bring you to elephant parks dedicated to conservation. For example, on our Treasures of Thailand tour, you’ll visit an elephant camp that works toward conservation and ending mistreatment. Here, you can learn about the majestic creatures by watching them feed, bathe, and interact with each other in their normal social patterns. During our Discover South Africa tour, a drive through Kruger National Park provides you with the indescribable opportunity to spot elephants in their natural habitats.
Wondering how you can help?
The best thing to do is get educated. (Since you’re reading this, you’re already off to a great start!) By spreading the word about these issues, animal cruelty in tourism can be curbed and someday stopped. So ask questions, work with people and companies you trust, and see the world at its most authentic.