Let’s take a deep dive into the realm of tourist attractions. And we’re not talking roller coasters or the teacup ride. This rant is centered around an animal encounter at the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge in Bali. Ostensibly, Mason Elephant Park & Lodge is an elephant conservation park… but they seem to do an awful lot of what I would call sketchy touristy stuff with the elephants they’re supposed to be helping. Elephant chauffeurs, bathing with elephants, elephant treks on safari, and more. Seems a little counterintuitive if you ask me.
One intrepid vacationer embarked on what she probably thought was a good idea at the time. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? In this case, a series of bad decisions made by one Beth Bogar involved, you guessed it, the world’s largest land animal. The excursion in question started with an aquatic bonding experience with an elephant followed by a majestic ride on its back and an up-close photo op at the end. Little did she know, the elephant had a biting sense of humor. Okay, yeah, so that was an insensitive joke. I don’t even care.
Now, let’s take a moment to reflect on the mysteries of life. We live in a world where humans voluntarily hop aboard the backs of wild animals and expect nothing but rainbows and sunshine. It’s truly a marvel that the elephant in question didn’t whip out a “Welcome, Ride Me!” sign instead of biting our daring traveler. The woman required extensive surgery from what I understand, but it’s not surprising considering it was an elephant. They’re kind of on the “big” side. I mean, when you think “what would I rather get bitten by today?” one doesn’t ordinarily think “elephant.” Because again. They’re big. And powerful. And don’t take kindly to being exploited.
Before you start saying “aww, how terrible!” it’s important to note that these animal encounters raise a few ethical eyebrows. If yours aren’t raised in solidarity, then I just don’t know what to even say to you anymore. You may not know this, but elephants are not born with a predisposition for carrying humans on their backs or posing for photo ops. Surprise, surprise! They prefer to live their lives free from the clutches of capitalism.
But, dear readers, let’s delve deeper into the dark underbelly of these seemingly innocent attractions. For instance, where do you think they find these elephants? It’s not as though you can just pick them up at the pet store. No. These businesses usually get their elephants as babies by either stealing them from their mother in the wild or unethical breeding programs. Rather than a heartwarming story of compassion where the calves (baby elephants) are trained with kindness and empathy, it’s more like a tale of horror with the young elephants being subjected to cruel and abusive practices to instill fear and ensure obedience.
Naturally, it should come as no shock that an animal who has endured a life of fear and manipulation might snap. Or maybe, you know, it simply didn’t like a human in its face, and it did what a wild animal does if its space is being invaded.
Now, here’s where the fun part begins. While Ms. Bogar doesn’t blame the elephant, she does blame the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge – because, and here’s the funny bit, they should have known the elephant might bite her and the guide let her arm get too close to the elephant’s mouth. I guess it never occurred to her that the elephant might bite if you’re up in its face. Wild animal and all that, but no, the thought apparently never crossed her mind. So, anyway, she thinks they should pay for her ordeal. I mean, I guess I agree, and one could say that she’s been punished enough for her bad decisions. But, come on. Everyone involved in this situation is in the wrong, except for the elephant. And it’s hard to muster up any sympathy. Except for the elephant. Because really, dear readers, what did they expect? When you choose to get up close and personal with a wild animal, one that is likely abused and fearful, the universe doesn’t always reward you with a good time.
Of course, I can’t vent about this topic without stating the obvious: if it weren’t for people like Ms. Bogar who condone and actively participate in exploiting animals in this way, there would be no demand for such attractions, and the animals would be left alone to live their lives instead of being “trained” to cater to the whims of tourists. Another plus side to this is that there would be no biting of said tourists.
You know who probably paid the biggest price in this fiasco? Yep, the elephant. No word on whether the animal was euthanized, punished, or released. But I would bet good money that one of those things is definitely not in its future. Can you guess which one?
Rant over. But I’ll leave you with this last thought… call me cliché, but it’s true. And important. We need to look beyond our selfishness and work together to create a more compassionate world for all living beings.
Okay. Rant really over this time.