57 per cent of elephants at Thai tourist facilities have nervous tics

More than half the elephants in multiple Thai tourist facilities have nervous tics that may reflect anxiety, frustration or boredom.

The involvement of scientists in the elephant tourism industry has led to improvements in welfare, but many captive Thai elephants still develop repetitive behaviours called stereotypies, which are similar to nervous tics.

Pakkanut Bansiddhi at Chiang Mai University in Thailand and her colleagues observed the behaviour of 283 Indian elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) in 20 tourist facilities in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province where elephants give tourists rides, walk side by side with them and participate in shows.

The team found that 57 per cent of these elephants showed repetitive behaviours, including swaying side to side, weaving or pacing around, bobbing their heads, making useless limb movements and rocking back and forth on their feet, at least once in a 15-minute period. This might be their way of dealing with stressful situations like separation from family members or being restrained in chains, or even coping with boredom, says Bansiddhi.

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2291712-57-per-cent-of-elephants-at-thai-tourist-facilities-have-nervous-tics/#ixzz77shjhFr3

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