This is not something we support nor offer at EVP. Popular across much of Asia, riding elephants is a relatively easy way for an elephant owner (don’t forget that an elephant is an expensive creature to care for and their owners have to find a means to pay for this) to earn an income.
Done correctly, for example bareback without the big basket, it does not harm the elephant.
Done incorrectly, it can be one of the worst methods of working an elephant, which unfortunately is the case for most elephants working this way at the moment.
An elephant sanctuary however is a place where an elephant gets the chance to live a more natural existence and there is no place for such an activity. When we first started the EVP, for the first 6 months, we actually rode the elephants bareback when they went to graze, but soon found that it is far more interesting to actually observe the elephant being an elephant.
Needless to say it is also better for the elephant as they can freely dust or throw mud on themselves. Morally speaking, it is also odd to think that it is ‘OK’ to ride an elephant that is so rare and not acceptable to ride another animal of equivalent endangered status such as a panda, tiger, giraffe or hippo.
Activities such as riding go hand in hand with painting, dancing, and any other sort of exploitative practice that keep elephants in detrimental living and working conditions.