World Animal Protection urges celebrities not to ride elephants

Press release

The charity is asking Liz Hurley not to ride elephants as this one of the world’s cruelest forms of wildlife entertainment

British actress and model, Liz Hurley tweeted a photograph riding an elephant in South Africa during the shooting of a new film. It may not be known to Liz and many tourists, that over 500,000 wild animals suffer in the name of entertainment at tourist attractions every day. Behind the scenes they endure cruel ‘training’ to make them submissive enough for people to ride on them.

Global animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection estimates that thousands of elephants across the world live in captivity and are used for tourist activities. Most of them are kept at venues with severely inadequate welfare conditions to provide elephant rides and shows for tourists. When not giving rides, or performing, most of the elephants are chained day and night. This life of captivity begins with severe trauma, with young elephants separated from their mothers before suffering a harsh training process to break their spirits. This makes them submissive enough to perform tricks and give rides to tourists.

To bring an end to this cruelty, the charity has provided travel tips for tourists to look out for cruel animal attractions whilst on holiday. World Animal Protection also works with tour operators around the world to stop sending customers to cruel wildlife entertainment venues. Following the NGO’s campaign, 166 travel companies across the world, including TripAdvisor, Contiki, Kuoni Travel UK and Jetair have committed to no longer offer visits to venues with elephant rides and shows in any of their markets.

Despite this large number, there are still several travel companies who are yet to commit to ending elephant rides and other cruel elephant entertainment, such as Virgin, Audley Travel, Trailfinders and The Ultimate Travel Company in the UK.

Kate Nustedt, global wildlife director at World Animal Protection says:

“It’s never acceptable to ride an elephant.  All elephants used for entertainment suffer a cruel and intensive breaking-in process so they will be submissive enough to give people rides.  Their suffering continues throughout their lives in these cruel elephant camps.  They are held captive in chains, beaten with metal bull hooks, and unable to form natural social bonds.

“There are lots of opportunities for Liz Hurley to see elephants in the wild in South Africa.  Now she knows about cruelties of riding an elephant let’s hope she shows compassion and sets a positive example in the future.”


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Jonaid Jilani on

T. +44 (0) 20 7239 0500 // 0673 E. jonaidjilani@worldanimalprotection.org

Notes to editors