Would interacting with a captive elephant still bring you joy if you knew the animal suffered extreme abuse and manipulation? If you have interacted with a captive elephant, chances are that the massive animal has gone through the tortuous process of Phajaan, or having her spirit broken, in order to make her more docile and open to human interaction.
How to Break an Elephant’s Spirit
One Green Planet explains Phajaan, as it’s known in Asia (or “crushing” in the United States), and how it makes elephant rides in the Asian tourism industry possible.
Phajaan begins when elephants are the most vulnerable. Baby elephants are forced into crates similar to gestation crates that we abhor seeing pigs in. While the baby elephant is being starved, he is also:
- Tied from his feet with rope that will graduate to chains
- Forced to have his limbs stretched
- Beaten with sharp objects
- Verbally abused and constantly yelled at
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