Why I Changed #16 Ride an Elephant

At the time of publishing my bucket list, in 2010, riding an elephant in Thailand was sure to be found in every bucket list article on the internet. This is how I found it. I will admit that I was ignorant. I did not know what was happening behind the scenes at these elephant parks in Thailand. I think that can be said for most of the world as well.

In the early 2010’s this topic started popping up more and more. While a handful of travelers had known before this time, it was starting to reach critical mass. People were talking about it, sharing the sad truth on social media and lobbying to have this type of behavior stopped.

In 2014, Intrepid Travel announced that they were no longer going to support elephant riding on any of their trips. This shocked the travel industry. Elephant riding in Thailand was a cash train that everyone wanted to be in on, and yet one of the industry giants was saying NO. Today, more than 100 travel companies around the world are actively boycotting elephant riding on their trips. This societal pressure has helped minimise the cruelty to these gentle giants.


I began reading many of these articles around the time that Intrepid Travel made their big announcement. There were many supporting them and many still arguing that their elephants were treated ethically.

In 2016, I went to Bali with my two best mates, Dave and Branden. When looking at our tours options and fun things to do I came across a brochure for elephant rides. I was still unsure of where I stood on this matter, so I asked the guys, “What’s our opinion on elephant rides?” Dave was quick to say, “No. I know how they treat those animals.” That was all he needed to say to make up my mind.

When I returned home, I scratched this one off the list. I still had a burning desire to see an elephant, so I modified #16 to read “See an Elephant in the Wild.” This allows me to fulfil my desire to see these beautiful creatures without adding to the torture that they have been subjected to in recent times.

Have you seen an elephant in the wild? Let me know in the comments below.

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