After being forced to entertain tourists for the majority of their lives, elephants Jahn and Chok now walk freely at the eco-tourism Koh Lanta venue in Thailand, now called ‘Following Giants.’
With help from World Animal Protection, the venue recently transitioned from a traditional trekking camp to an observation-only operation, ensuring elephants no longer live a life in cruel captivity.
Joining Jahn and Chok at ‘Following Giants’ is 55-year old Sow, who worked in the logging and tourism industry for many decades. After 30 years of being apart, video footage captured the emotional moment where Sow and Jahn are reunited, interlocking their trunks.
“These elephants have suffered a lifetime of misery, both in logging and the tourism industry. They have all undergone the harsh training of the crush in order for them to be safe to interact with,” World Animal Protection’s Global Head of Wildlife, Audrey Mealia, said in a statement.
The opening of ‘Following Giants’ follows the successful re-launch of fellow Thai observation-only camp ChangChill earlier last year, which was also supported by World Animal Protection to make significant changes.
The transition of both venues gives the elephants the freedom to roam, graze, bathe, and socialize with each other. Previously, Koh Lanta offered elephant rides, bathing experiences and direct interaction with elephants. When not giving rides, these elephants were typically chained, with no shelter from the sun or elements for hours each day.
Venues offering tourists a chance to watch elephants in genuine sanctuaries mark a substantial move toward the urgently-needed shift in the captive elephant tourism industry.
‘Following Giants’ will reopen for the main tourist season from December 2019 to March 2020
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