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Online travel-booking giant Priceline.com allows bookings for exploitative elephant camps through its site, even though dozens of travel companies around the world have turned their backs on facilities that use elephants for entertainment. Elephants who are used for rides and other interactions endure lives in which they're controlled under the constant threat of violence and routinely kept chained.
Those who are used for rides are trained as babies in a process commonly called phajaan, or "the crush." During this process, still-nursing baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, kicking and screaming. They're lassoed and bound with ropes, immobilized in wooden boxes, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with bullhooks, nail-studded sticks, or other weapons—sometimes for days on end. These ritualized "training" sessions leave the baby elephants badly injured and traumatized, and it's been reported that up to half of those who are subjected to this abuse don't survive the process. Those who do are forced to spend their lives in servitude, under the constant threat of punishment. They're routinely beaten and often worked to the point of exhaustion, sometimes even to the point of death.
Public opposition to the use of animals for entertainment is stronger than it's ever been, and dozens of businesses in the travel and hospitality industries—including Airbnb and Booking.com, the latter of which is owned by Priceline—have stopped selling elephant rides. TripAdvisor took a stand against elephant cruelty in 2016 by pledging not to offer any direct-contact activities with elephants, and the next year, Expedia announced that activities involving certain wild-animal interactions would no longer be bookable through its sites.
Continuing to allow exploitative camps to be listed on Priceline.com helps drive demand for an egregiously cruel industry that uses violence and domination to force elephants into subservience. Please urge Priceline.com to catch up to its competitors and stop booking visits to camps that exploit elephants.