Four out of five Britons want a ban on ‘cruel’ holidays where elephants suffer abuse, a poll has found.
Holidays featuring elephant rides and elephants performing tricks like playing football are advertised by major firms.
But campaigners from Save the Asian Elephant (STAE) say getting the animals to perform requires cruel training known as ‘pajan’ and should not be advertised.
Yesterday travel booking website Expedia said it would drop elephant holidays from its website.
Polling of 2,000 adults found 79 per cent want a ban on the promotion of unethical elephant tourism. Nearly nine in ten wanted a ban on pajan, which involves starving and beating elephants.
STAE found around 488 tour companies promoting holidays with ‘unethical elephant venues’ in south-east Asia.
A petition set up by STAE calling for a ban on the advertising of elephant holidays has now reached almost one million signatures.
TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham CBE said: ‘The brutality to Asian elephants in tourism is often described as the worst animal cruelty of all.
‘These mighty mega gardeners of the forests are crucial to the replenishment of our environment, containing our carbon footprint and curbing climate change. We destroy them at our peril.
‘I completely support this great move to ban adverts for unethical resorts and practices.’
Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, Dame Jane Goodall, said: ‘I wholeheartedly support the millions backing STAE’s campaign for long overdue law to end advertising in the UK of the shameful destinations where these abuses happen.
‘It is up to each and every one of us to learn about these practices and to condemn them.’
Duncan McNair, CEO of Save The Asian Elephants, said: ‘The systematic, widespread and violent abuse of baby and adult Asian elephants for tourism profits is an outrage and a tragedy.
‘The leading role the UK travel market takes in promoting it is appalling. It is imperative our Government acts now to ban the advertising and sale of these gruesome, atrocious venues, brutal to elephants and increasingly dangerous to tourists.’
An Expedia spokesperson said: ‘Earlier this year, as part of our ongoing efforts around animal welfare, we began removing travel guide pages, such as the ones you included in your e-mail, that promote attractions that do not meet our animal welfare standards.
‘Some of this work was delayed as our attention shifted to COVID-19, however, we have started this work once again and all the pages you included, among others, will soon be removed.
‘I think it is important to note that these activities are not offered for sale on any of our sites.’
The holidays are advertised in countries including India, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.