Help needed for rescued elephants across Asia

The effects of the coronavirus crisis are being felt hard across the Asia’s tourism industry where elephant- friendly venues are facing collapse. World Animal Protection has launched an urgent appeal to help over 150 elephants in Asia.

The appeal aims to assist eleven struggling, elephant-friendly venues in Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and Laos to provide food, medicine and venue running costs in the short term.

World Animal Protection Global Head of Wildlife, Audrey Mealia, said “As the world is in lockdown and the tourism industry dries up, wild animals – that should never have been in captivity in the first place – could suffer most, left abandoned, neglected and starving.”

“It would be heart-breaking to accept that this global crisis could sacrifice the new-found freedom these elephants are experiencing at these high-welfare venues.”

Audrey Mealia said they recognise that these are challenging times, but the work to protect wild animals never stops. 

“Wild animals should not be the forgotten victims of this pandemic.”

A costly operation

Tourists help in the feeding process at ChangChill. Credit: World Animal Protection

Caring for captive elephants doesn’t come cheap, as they require about 10% of their body weight in food every day – that’s up to 400kg of grass, leaves, fruits and vegetables, which needs to be paid for and transported.

“While this is an extremely uncertain time for captive elephants in Asia, it also provides an opportunity for the tourism industry to rebuild responsibly post-pandemic.”

World Animal Protection has previously supported the transition of venues including ChangChill and Following Giants in Thailand to become high welfare and elephant friendly – representing the potential for future responsible tourism.

Action needed

Credit: Nick Axelrod for World Animal Protection

“Now is the time for the tourism industry to take responsibility and clean up its act to end the exploitation of wild animals forever,” Audrey Mealia said.

World Animal Protection spent several years helping one venue, ChangChill, to become truly elephant-friendly. With our support, and the encouragement from some of the world’s leading travel companies, ChangChill is now a place where elephants can be elephants, and tourists can observe them. You can watch the transformation here.

In 2017, World Animal Protection launched the first comprehensive assessment of elephants in Asia, Taken for a Ride. The report documents the conditions endured by nearly 3,000 elephants used in tourist venues across Asia. 220 venues were surveyed between late 2014 and mid-2016, including all venues that could be identified in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and a representative selection of venues in India. It follows World Animal Protection’s first survey in 2010 covering the conditions of elephants in entertainment in Thailand, called Wildlife on a Tightrope. 

Viewing platform with Chok and Jahn at Following Giants. Credit: Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

Find out more here and how you can help, visit

Kate Webster is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself but the world around her. This has inspired Kate to translate those moments and share them through her storytelling. A dedicated David Attenborough and Jane Goodall fan, Kate has delved into the world of wildlife and conservation travel to bring awareness.