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How ethical is the elephant ‘sanctuary’ you’re visiting?

On the eve of World Elephant Day experts advise how to avoid cruel elephant attractions and support genuine welfare centres

“Many parks advertise themselves as sanctuaries but they are not,” says Maria Mossman, founder of non-profit group Action for Elephants UK. “Never go to a park that advertises shows, unnatural behaviour, tricks or painting – and please, never ride an elephant.”

Mossman, who has been involved in elephant activism since 2013, and also organises global marches, says that real sanctuaries will limit contact with the elephants, with visitors observing them from a distance the majority of the time. She warns travellers to avoid anywhere offering riding or allowing bathing sessions with elephants: “In some places this means a lot of people every hour with the elephants in the water – it’s not natural for an elephant to be in the water all day with lots of people climbing all over them.”

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