Sambo’s life was utter misery from the moment humans decided to use her as a tourist attraction. And now this poor overworked elephant is dead.
Reports say that Sambo was being forced to ferry tourists to the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. Temperatures exceeded 100 degrees, and there was not even so much as a breeze to cool her. Overworked and overheated, she succumbed to the punishing conditions and is believed to have suffered a heart attack. She collapsed beside a road and died, and passersby reportedly wept over her body.
An overworked elephant and a cautionary tale for travelers
Elephants like Sambo who are used for rides are typically torn away from their mothers when they’re just babies, and their spirits are violently broken through domination, fear, and punishment. When forced to carry tourists around, they’re often denied food and water for hours and aren’t given any breaks from the extreme heat—which could have been what caused Sambo’s heart attack.
When not being forced to give rides, these gentle animals are chained and barely able to move. In the wild, elephants have complex social networks, and they experience the same loneliness and grief that humans do when they’re separated from their families and forced to live without such important relationships.
Travel with compassion: End elephant tourism
It is estimated that more than half a million exotic animals are enslaved in the tourism industry around the world. Learn more about their plight and what to avoid.
There is absolutely no excuse for commandeering an elephant—or any other beautiful, intelligent animal—for the fleeting entertainment of tourists. The way you spend your money could literally be the difference between life and death for another animal like Sambo. The next time that you are planning to visit a country that offers elephant rides or other animal attractions, steer clear of this abuse.