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Thai elephants return home due to coronavirus - Video

27 May 2020

The decrease in tourism in Northern Thailand has had a major effect on the elephants, leaving many elephants, you may claim, homeless.

Although some elephants are out of operation and brought back to their natural environment, some are starving in captivity and could be shipped off to work in animal labor, which others would find immoral. A reporter from BBC Thailand follows a group of elephants making the trek and spoke with those in the ‘ elephant 'business.

One owner, who goes by Uncle Eddy 's name, told BBC that if the tourism industry doesn't pick up soon, he'll hand over his 57 elephants to a Myanmar logging business.

BBC Thailand's footage shows Uncle Eddy's elephants balancing on short chains in an outdoor cement frame.

He said if the elephants aren't running, then they aren't having exercise.

The pregnant elephants would have trouble giving birth without exercise, and the babies would eventually die, he comments.

Thailand has a number of parks and sanctuaries for elephants. There's a controversy on whether to care for elephants in captivity. Some establishments keep elephants in a short chain, for rides or show only to be taken out.

Some companies that identify themselves as sanctuaries have elephants wandering the properties and enabling visitors to feed the animals and bathe them. For some of the tourism trends that have visited Thailand in the past, this 'legal' model is becoming more common.

BBC accompanied a small group of elephants lead by the Save Elephant Foundation and reported that the elephants were very thirsty and some seemed to be "short on resources" The founder of the charity, Lek Chailert, says the pandemic is an opportunity to get the elephants out of the tourism industry.