The issues are complex, which is why Intrepid has been very pleased to partner for many years with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and be able to tap into their expertise on what's right in animal welfare.
Elephant issues have been a strong area of concern. Having such an enormous wild animal restrained for many hours at a time and used for rides or to do human-like behaviors, such as kick a soccer ball or paint pictures with their trunks, has never felt right. So in 2010 to 2011, we lent support to extensive research by WSPA into captive elephant venues and learnt much along the way.
People often think that an elephant in captivity is domesticated, and so somehow it's OK to have them under human command. But the reality is that they never have been domesticated like dogs or horses. Even if born in captivity, they are still a wild animal, and need to be 'broken' to accept human control. There is much evidence that this process is exceptionally cruel.
Yes, there are a considerable number of elephants that have been rescued from working in industries like logging and their carers need to earn a living to feed and care for them. But we've also learnt that the numbers of elephants being poached from the wild has increased to fuel the tourism demand for rides and entertainment. Some venues seem to be trying to outdo each other with novelty offerings that clearly give little regard to the elephants' welfare. An elephant falling off a tight rope would be catastrophic for the elephant.