Thailand. So I am contemplating how to get on Bounma, my elephant, without passing out with fear. Breathe. I keep telling myself. Just breathe.
But one thought which never occurred to me as I was climbing up on my gentle giant, is it fair to the elephant to ride her? An interesting question and one that I now learn, 6 months after returning from Thailand, is rather hotly debated.
According to both the Humane Society and the Association of Zoos, it is not only cruel to the elephant, but dangerous to the rider. All sorts of statistics are quoted (which reinforces my opinion, facts can always be used to support both sides of an argument-it just depends which side you are on). On the opposing side is The Four Seasons Elephant Camp, where we were, which uses elephant riding as one way to support the rescued elephants in their care.
So knowing what I know today, would I ride an elephant again? Absolutely! But at least now I am better better educated on the issues surrounding their treatment. Riding Bounma changed my world, literally. She helped me fall in love with life and, in turn, learn a little more everyday how we can be better stewards of our planet and all it offers. And for that I am eternally grateful.