You took a stand for elephants and called for an end to the suffering they endure being used for entertainment, and we are pleased to share the news that African Lion Safari has permanently ended elephant rides.
As of July 2021, African Lion Safari has shared a statement to the CBC saying that they permanently stopped elephant rides.
An end to elephant rides at African Lion Safari - how we got here
We know, through our research with the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, that elephant rides are among the cruellest tourist activities because of the amount of suffering the elephants endure, physically and emotionally. The “free contact” training methods required to force elephants to accept people riding them causes both physical and psychological harm. The cruel methods used to break an elephants’ spirit to establish dominance over them, is why elephant riding is considered one of the cruelest tourism activities.
So, it was disappointing to learn that such rides were taking place here in Canada, at Ontario’s African Lion Safari, and surprising as it was not promoted to visitors on their website.
Based on a 5 year study of public attitudes on wildlife tourism, we know such activities aren’t in line with Canadians’ opinions and values. The majority of Canadians want to see wild animals in the wild and don’t believe a profit should be made off of the suffering of wild animals kept in captivity for entertainment. Additionally, there is a declining acceptance overall for wildlife entertainment and specifically for elephant rides and shows.
In early 2019, our team visited African Lion Safari to document the use of elephants for rides and shows, as part of research on activities that contravene professional zoo policy. A few weeks later, a trainer at the zoo was attacked and seriously injured by an elephant that had been giving rides to a line-up of people, including young children. While fortunately this incident wasn’t fatal, as it has been in the past, it highlighted the dangers and cruelty of keeping elephants captive for tourist entertainment.
Soon after this incident we released our report, The show can't go on, based on our visit to African Lion Safari and 11 other zoos around the world that train wild animals to perform unnatural and demeaning activities in contravention of the professional zoo guidelines they are supposed to be upholding. In addition to our report, World Animal Protection reached out to the zoo, the association who sets standards for accreditation (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) and Ontario’s Minister of Labour and Solicitor General to bring an end to this cruelty which impacts the elephant’s welfare and the public’s safety.
Your support made this win for elephants possible
Following the trainer attack, you supported a sustained awareness campaign by sending over 7,700 letters to African Lion Safari and the Ontario government, urging them to ‘do the right thing’. By taking a stand for elephants, you helped build public pressure on African Lion Safari to stop offering cruel elephant rides. Furthermore, we were able to conduct research, which provided proof that this cruelty was taking place and produce our reports underlining the harmful impacts on elephants. This simply would not be possible without your commitment, support and donations.
How we will continue to fight for elephants and other wild animals used for entertainment in Canada
The announcement of the permanent end to elephant rides is an important step to reducing the elephant cruelty taking place at African Lion Safari. However, there are still wild animals being used for tourist entertainment at venues across Canada. This is why we will continue to urge the federal and provincial governments and Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), to ban the use of wild animals for rides, circus-style shows and selfies at all zoos.
We will push:
CAZA to change their policy around wild animal rides, shows and other direct visitor interactions at all of their member zoos.