Cambodia is ending elephant rides at Angkor Wat

Score one for the animal rights activists: according to reports, Cambodia will no longer allow elephant rides at Angkor Wat, starting in 2020.

According to the Associated Press, a private company has been offering elephant rides at the UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001, but after one animal died transporting a tourist in 2016, the practice has been decried as cruel and unnecessary. A petition was circulated, imploring the tourism industry to end “this horrific practice,” and last week, the government agency that manages the Siem Reap temple complex finally complied, announcing that the animals would be moved offsite by early next year.

“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal told Agence France-Presse. Of the 14 working elephants at the site, some of whom are old and infirm, five have already been moved to their new home in a community forest some 40 kilometres away, and the remaining elephants should be situated by early next year. “They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.

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