Cambodia’s Angkor temple park will stop offering elephant rides early next year

By Maria Pasquini
November 15, 2019 02:40 PM

Starting next year, elephant rides will no longer be offered at Cambodia’s Angkor temple park.

The popular tourist destination, an archeological site which is home to numerous remains from the Khmer Empire, will ban elephant rides “by the start of 2020,” Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, a government agency that manages the park, told Agence France-Presse.

“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he added, noting that five of their 14 elephants had already been relocated to a forested area about 25 miles away from the temple, where “they will live out their natural lives.”

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Some of the elephants, which have been kept at the site since 2001, are old and not in the best health, according to the Associated Press.

Kosal told the AP that tourists will still be allowed to see the elephants in their new habitat, and that the animals will be trained to give performances.

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In 2016, a female elephant died of heart failure after giving a tourist a ride at the Angkor Wat temple complex.

“Veterinarians concluded that the elephant’s death was caused by the hot temperatures which caused stress, shock, high blood pressure and a heart attack,” Angkor Elephant Company owner Oan Kiri told the AFP at the time, according to the Washington Post.

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The elephant, named Sambo, was thought to be between 40-45 years old, AP reported. Most Asian elephants live up to 48 years.

“There is no such thing as cruelty-free elephant rides,” read a petition that was created at the time. “What you don’t realize is that a ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘bucket list’ item for you, means a lifetime of misery for wild animals.”