BELLEVUE, WASH. - Following two years of talks with PETA - and after hearing from more than 170,000 PETA supporters - World Spree has stopped offering tours to facilities with captive elephants. The travel agency removed elephant rides from its offerings last year.
"World Spree has done the right thing in ending its promotions of cruel elephant camps, where these animals are forced to perform in shows and do other abusive stunts under the constant threat of violence," says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. "PETA is calling on the few remaining travel agencies still offering animal-exploiting activities to follow World Spree's compassionate, business-savvy example and stop offering them."
"This decision was based on our continuing commitment to provide ethical tours that don't harm animals, people, or the environment," says World Spree Managing Director Wilson Wu. "We thank PETA for reminding World Spree of our roots, and we encourage people to travel with us, confident that we are doing everything in our power to provide only the most conscientious experiences to our clients."
As babies, elephants used for rides and shows are forcibly separated from their mothers, immobilized with tightly bound ropes, and gouged with nails or other sharp objects in order to break their spirits and teach them to obey out of fear of punishment. Some die during the process, and many of those who survive spend the rest of their lives in chains when they're not being forced to give rides, perform tricks, or interact with an endless stream of visitors at camps.
Elephant attractions are also dangerous to humans. Captive elephants forced to interact with humans have thrown tourists through the air, crushed them beneath their feet, and trampled their handlers - and tuberculosis (a deadly disease that's transmissible between elephants and humans) is common among these animals.
World Spree will receive a box of elephant-shaped vegan chocolates from PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to use for entertainment." More than 50 other travel companies - including Adventures by Disney, Costco Travel, Thomas Cook, TripAdvisor, and TUI - have banned elephant rides.