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How can I recognize elephant-friendly venues?

For Airbnb Experiences and Adventures that include animals, Airbnb has partnered with World Animal Protection to provide guidelines and articles that seek to promote the safety of wild animals in the wild and in captivity, as well as domesticated animals under human care.

Signs that a venue is elephant-friendly

We know most people simply don’t know the cruelty inflicted on elephants, as it can be difficult to spot. Here are three characteristics of elephant-friendly venues—use these indicators to make good choices on your next trip:

Elephants live in a wild or semi-wild environment

Elephant-friendly venues aim to provide conditions for elephants to live in a wild or semi-wild environment day and night. This is important to allow for social interaction in natural groupings, adequate movement, and natural foraging.

Appropriate and accurate education is provided

Elephant-friendly venues educate their visitors in an engaging way with the aim to raise awareness of the animal welfare concerns associated with keeping elephants in captivity. This includes their complex needs and the conservation issues surrounding the taking of animals from the wild.

Elephants are always handled humanely

Elephant-friendly venues use positive reinforcement whenever possible to manage elephants and to ensure the safety of tourists, caretakers, and animals.

Signs that a venue is not elephant-friendly

A venue may call itself a sanctuary, rescue center, or retirement home for elephants, but don't assume this means the venue is committed to elephants’ welfare. Use these guidelines to help you determine if a venue is truly elephant-friendly:

You should not be allowed to touch the elephants

Elephants are wild animals that belong in the wild. If they're allowing you close enough to ride, bathe with, or touch them, it's because they've been cruelly trained. Interaction with an elephant for you is the result of fear and pain for them. Be elephant-aware and only visit venues where you can look but not touch.

Elephants should not be prevented from moving freely

Elephants in the wild spend their days roaming long distances, grazing, and socializing with other elephants. If elephants in the venue you are thinking of visiting are not allowed to freely move and express natural behavior, it's not an elephant-friendly environment.

Elephant babies should not be at the venue

Baby elephants are tourist magnets, but true elephant-friendly venues shouldn't allow breeding, so you shouldn't be seeing young elephants. The exception is orphanages where baby elephants are rescued from the wild. They may be cute, but you shouldn’t be able to see or touch a baby elephant, especially without its mom.

Elephants should not be used for entertainment

Genuine sanctuaries do not offer rides, shows, or any other inappropriate public interaction. Elephant-friendly venues, operating in the best interest of the animals, will not allow for any direct tourist-elephant interaction.

In addition to the harm non-elephant-friendly environments can cause the animals themselves, captive elephants can be unpredictable and dangerous, resulting in tourists and mahouts (elephant keepers and trainers) also being injured and killed each year. Even in elephant-friendly venues, you'll often see mahouts accompanying elephants, at a distance, to keep elephants and visitors safe. Elephants should always be treated with kindness and respect, and hooks never used unless in a real emergency.

Conduct that violates our guidelines

If you come across an experience that violates the Animal Welfare Guidelines, threatens the safety of our hosts or guests, or risks the welfare and/or conservation of animals, please contact us. If applicable, make a note of the date, time and location, as well as the type of animals involved in the experience.

If we are made aware that an experience and/or host violates our platform policies, community standards, or terms of service, we take action including permanent removal from our community if warranted. We’re constantly reviewing and revising our platform policies and protections in order to make our community safer and higher quality.

Partner disclaimers

Courtesy of World Animal Protection. ©2019 World Animal Protection. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The World Animal Protection name is used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion or political position. For more information about World Animal Protection, please visit

Read the original articles here and here by World Animal Protection.

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