An elephant being observed in the wild.

Elephant Friendly Tourist Guide

You have the power to change the world for elephants.

The best place to see elephants is in the wild. But if you’re going to visit an elephant venue, make sure it allows elephants to be elephants while educating visitors on their complex needs.

Share your experience, leave reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, and be part of the movement to create a better future for elephants.

What’s in a name?

A venue may call itself a sanctuary, rescue center, or retirement home for elephants, but don’t assume this means it’s higher welfare. Do your research before booking and use our guide below to avoid being misled.

An elephant being touched by tourists.

Is touching allowed?

No. Only visit venues where you can look, not touch. Elephants are wild animals who belong in the wild. If a venue allows you to get close enough to ride, bathe, or touch them, it’s because they’ve been cruelly trained.

Elephant in enclosure.

Are the elephants behaving like elephants?

If the elephants in a venue are not allowed to freely move and express natural behavior, it’s not the place for you. Elephants in the wild spend their days roaming long distances, grazing and socializing with other elephants, not confined in small enclosures, or forced to perform.

A baby elephant captive in an enclosure.

Are there baby elephants there?

They might be cute, but if you can see or touch a baby elephant, especially without its mom, then the venue is not elephant-friendly. Baby elephants are tourist magnets, but true elephant-friendly venues shouldn’t allow breeding. You shouldn’t be seeing young elephants, except for orphanages where babies are rescued from the wild.

An elephant with their mahout at a sanctuary.

Are the elephants and people safe?

Elephants should always be treated with kindness and respect, and hooks shouldn’t be used unless in a real emergency. Being wild animals, captive elephants can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially if they’re being crowded. Many tourists and mahouts are injured and killed each year. Even in elephant-friendly venues, you’ll often see mahouts accompanying elephants at a distance, to keep everyone safe.

ChangChill: better for elephants, better for tourism

We spent several years helping one venue, ChangChill, to become truly elephant-friendly.

With our support, that of the TUI Care Foundations, and the encouragement from some of the world’s leading travel companies, ChangChill is now a place where elephants can be elephants, and tourists can have the honor of witnessing that.