SIXTY Captive Elephants Freed After Owner's Change Of Heart

<p> Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/lek.chailert">Lek Chailert</a><span></span> </p>

A great burden has been lifted for 60 pachyderms, who will no longer be forced to give rides or perform tricks at a popular elephant camp in west Thailand.

Facebook/Lek Chailert

Instead, the camp will follow in the footsteps of Elephant Nature Park (ENP), a renowned rescue and rehabilitation center supported by visitors who want to help elephants.

Facebook/Lek Chailert

"It means that we can release 60 elephants free from work," Lek Chailert, who founded ENP in the '90s, said in a statement on the organization's website. "We applaud [the camp's] soulful decision. I hope that more elephant camps in Thailand will do the same way in the near future."

Jordana Frankel

Elephant rides - such as those at the camp in Kanchanabur - may appear harmless, but brutality drives captive elephant training. Calves are often violently stolen from their families in the wild; to give rides, an elephant must first be "broken," or beaten into submission.

Aurora Wells/The Dodo

ENP has a different idea of ecotourism. Its visitor activities include feeding and bathing the elephants, who are given abundant open space on which to roam.

Aurora Wells/The Dodo

The goal is that, under ENP's guidance, the camp will retire its 60 elephants from labor by July. Here's how you can help.