On 13th February 2024, Gouri, a captive elephant forced to carry tourists in Amer Fort, Jaipur, India, attacked a Russian tourist breaking her leg. The scene was recorded by CCTV, and the footage, released by the animal rights group PETA, shows the elephant grabbing the woman in her trunk, swinging her vigorously, and then slamming her to the ground. 

According to PETA, which is appealing to the regional government urgently to move Gouri to a sanctuary, she is the same elephant who severely injured a shopkeeper in October 2022, but even though she was a known danger to the public due to the frustration she has been accumulating over the years, she was still being forced to carry tourists at Amer Fort. Elephants who have spent years being chained, bullied, and threatened with weapons are known to run amok, lashing out in fear and frustration. In a vicious circle, when elephants attack humans, the animals are typically beaten and subjected to other punishments, which only increases the likelihood they will attack again.

PETA is asking its supporters to “Stay away from activities involving direct contact with elephants anywhere in the world, and tell your friends about the cruelty behind archaic elephant rides. When you book a trip abroad, ask your tour operator and hotel whether they promote such activities. If they do, explain why they should stop. Avoid sham sanctuaries too, Elephant camps are notorious for duping the public into believing that their activities benefit elephants – often by claiming to rescue the animals or offer them sanctuary.”

ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association, has labelled direct contact between tourists and elephants “unacceptable”, and the UK government has already passed the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023, which seeks to ban tour operators in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland from advertising cruel animal attractions and experiences like elephant rides.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.