And while the glimpse these photos provide into the world of elephant training is unique, the realities are anything but. Brutal training processes like these are common the world over, from U.S. circuses to elephant attractions in Asia. In Thailand and other places where elephant rides or trained elephants are common, the process is called a training crush, because it crushes the baby elephant's spirit.
Fortunately, there are people working hard to save the elephants from situations like this. The Elephant Sanctuary is a large habitat in Tennessee where former captive elephants can live out their life in peace. The sanctuary doesn't accept visitors, as the elephants have already spent their lives performing for people, but you can make a donation here and follow the elephants' journeys on the group's Facebook page.
And as performing elephants become more archaic, the best thing you can do is avoid patronizing attractions that feature performing animals. To find out more about why things like elephant rides can be so dangerous, click here.