Here’s why you shouldn’t get an ‘elephant massage’ on holiday


Once again, footage is circulating of a couple getting an ‘elephant massage’ in Thailand.

Igor and Anastasia Nikoskov, both 28, chose to get the ‘massage’ while on holiday in Koh Chang island.

‘It felt like an experience you just had to try,’ Igor said. ‘The elephants can also play basketball as well though, which looks really cool.

‘We were there on our honeymoon and it was definitely an experience we would go back and have again. The elephants can also play basketball, which looks really cool.’


Elephant massages aren’t fun for the elephants (Picture: Caters)

However, while it might seem like a quirky ‘experience’, the reality for the elephants is far different.

In order to get the elephants to perform tricks – like giving massages or playing basketball – they go through a horrific process called ‘phajaan’, or ‘elephant crushing’.

Baby elephant calves are stolen from their parents and tortured from a young age.

Footage taken in secret (Picture: YouTube/Groundbreak Productions)

Footage taken in secret (Picture: YouTube/Groundbreak Productions)

They are locked up in tiny cages, tied up with rope, starved, deprived of sleep and water, beaten and stabbed on a daily basis.

Eventually, because of this prolonged abuse, the elephants end up completely broken and subservient to their trainers.

This is why they will do whatever their trainers make them.

And it’s not just massages. Any trick performed by an elephant – including elephant rides or performances in circuses – has involved some form of torture to make them obedient.

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If you want to appreciate elephants, or indeed any animals, without contributing to cruelty then there are many sanctuaries you can support instead – such as the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

To learn more about phajaan, watch this Groundbreak Productions documentary about the practice.

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