Moral Dilemma - Level: Elephant

I'm ridiculously busy getting ready for my work trip to Thailand and Malaysia. There's so much to do when you're going to be away almost a month! Like figure out all the little things you need to write down for my son in the hopes that he will take the utmost care of my home and cats while I'm gone. And plan touristy things to do for 3 free days before work begins. Oh, and create and edit a 150 page powerpoint and prepare myself to present that monster powerpoint to a team of 5-8 people who weren't born speaking my language and who are going to look to me to be the expert and maybe I'm not really the expert and they are going to unmask me and I will get fired and have no where to stay and no way to get home and I will have to swim off to the island where The Beach was filmed and find a rogue group of tourists to live with until we get kicked off the island by the drug lords...but Leonardo DiCaprio will be there to catch fish for me and I'll play beach volleyball and lose loads of weight and maybe live a happy alternative existence all the same.


Back to my main dilemma at hand - in Thailand there are a couple different elephant farms where elephants have been brought in and live as a way for locals to make money. You can pay a small fee and find yourself riding on the back of an elephant through the jungle, you can ride them to their watering hole and help bathe them. Fun right? Fun for us anyway. But is this a good life for the elephant?

I spoke to a native Thai person here in my city and she agreed with me that it IS sad for the elephants. However, they aren't horribly mistreated. They just don't live their life as an elephant should (in theory). But also, if tourists didn't go to visit these elephants, the locals would do other things with their elephants to make money, like bring them to the edge of the city and set up a temporary camp to make money in a less humane way. And she reminded me that the people of Thailand are very poor and tourists coming to visit is what allows the locals feed their families.

There is also a tiger sanctuary run by monks where you can feed baby tigers and watch them eat and just hang with the young ones all morning. Same moral issues with that place...

I suspect I will end up doing at least one of these. But my conscious feels heavy for those animals all the same.


  1. As you point out, the reality of poverty definitely makes one choose between the lesser of two evils. I'm sure you'll make the right choice.


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