If you’ve ever wanted to meet an elephant up close, you’re not alone. Interacting with these intelligent giants can be a breathtaking experience, but such encounters are not always pleasant from the elephant’s point of view.
There are an estimated 3000 captive elephants in Thailand – navigating the ethics of visiting them can be hard. Travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand with VRtually There in the video below for an intimate look at these incredible creatures.
For centuries, elephants have been used for work purposes in Thailand. In 1989 the Thai government implemented a nationwide ban on logging. As a result, many captive elephants were immediately out of work and were pushed into the tourism and entertainment industries. This remains the primary line of work that generates enough funds for owners to be able to care for their animals.
Today, there is a growing awareness about how some activities involving elephants may not be in their best interests. In order to learn to perform tricks, elephants typically go through training which involves neglect and abuse. Concerned tourists are increasingly seeking out more humane opportunities to see elephants.
When pursuing opportunities to connect with captive elephants, it’s important to ensure that parks can adequately provide for their welfare and that they also have efforts to support their conservation in the wild.
The stress of living in captivity, coupled with the poaching threats these animals face in the wild, leaves lot to be desired for their future.
The good news is that people are now paying attention to the plight of elephants, and are making strides towards being better co-inhabitants of their world.
See what goes into the daily care of these animals in the video above.
For the ideal experience, view in 360 degrees on your mobile phone or in VR headsets such as Google cardboard or Daydream. Subscribe to VRtually There on YouTube, browse the “Virtual Reality” section of the USA TODAY app (iOS | Android), or download our VR Stories Daydream app to catch three new episodes every week.
And whatever you do, don't forget to look around.