Captive young chained elephant looks through bars at a Thailand venue

Elephant Breeding

Wildlife Farming

Commercial elephant breeding represents a type of wildlife farming where elephants are exploited for profit. These gentle giants endure captivity, relentless breeding, and exploitation, all for financial gain, compromising their well-being.

The Commercial Elephant Breeding Landscape

  • The elephant population in tourism is primarily sustained through captive breeding, which is a form of wildlife farming.
  • Dozens of facilities actively engage in breeding, creating a continuous cycle of exploitation.
  • Unlike conventional farming, most elephant owners manage a small number of elephants due to their high individual value, longevity, and resource-intensive care.
  • Breeding involves renting breeding bulls to inseminate female elephants, with calves often sold after 1-2 years.
  • Elephant trading operates through intricate networks and annual markets, perpetuating the cycle of captivity.

How Captive Elephants Suffer

Poor welfare can have long-lasting physical and psychological effects.

Elephants bred through wildlife farming for entertainment endure continuous suffering, from the moment they undergo training until their eventual demise, which could span decades in captivity.

The consequences of poor welfare leave lasting scars, evident in the repetitive, purposeless movements such as swaying and head bobbing, and the manifestation of complex post-traumatic stress disorder from constant chaining.

Elephants are socially intricate animals

These intelligent and socially intricate animals, with a capacity for complex thoughts and emotions, endure profound suffering in captivity, as their natural social structures cannot be replicated artificially.

Sadly, returning most elephants to the wild is not feasible due to their lack of essential survival skills. However, there is hope for a more humane existence for these magnificent creatures by establishing observation-only, elephant-friendly camps that mimic the wild as closely as possible.

How to Stop Commercial Elephant Breeding

Call for change 

  • We advocate for an immediate end to the exploitation of elephants in tourism.
  • Spread awareness, support ethical alternatives, and be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Urge governments to phase out captivity.

  • A responsible and well-managed phase-out ensures no more wild elephants endure captivity.
  • Strive to create a brighter future for these incredible beings by alleviating the suffering of currently captive elephants.

View our interactive map of wildlife farming and global support for Thailand's efforts to end the captive breeding of elephants.

Elephant Pledge Map

The global support for Thailand's efforts to end captive elephant breeding

Our team in Thailand is pressing the government to protect elephants in tourism by ending captive breeding. World Animal Protection has rallied global support and the message is clear: this must be the last generation of elephants to suffer! These pledges are can significantly impact the success of driving a ban forward.

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How many breeds of elephants are there?

There are three extant species of elephants: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. All elephants are recognised as sentient beings, displaying complex emotions, social structures, and high levels of intelligence.

What is elephant breeding?

Captive Elephant Breeding is a form of Wildlife Farming where elephants are farmed for profit. These majestic creatures are now subjected to captivity, breeding, and exploitation to generate income at the expense of their well-being.

Can elephants breed in captivity?

Elephants can breed in captivity, but their well-being depends on providing appropriate conditions, space, social interactions. In the wild, female calves are cared for by their mothers for four to five years and supervised for several more years. Male calves tend to leave the herd between 10 and 15 years of age.  Separation begins with the mother chained securely at her resting spot and the calf roaming free.  

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