I write today, frustrated and angry at the death of Sambo, an old Asian elephant in Cambodia, who recently dropped dead after ferrying 2 tourists on her back to Angkor Wat in extreme heat. Her sudden death has been attributed to accumulated stress and excessive heat which resulted in a heart attack. She was forced to work in the tourism industry for over 15 years.

She was photographed lying there, fallen over and dead, her eyes still open, her mouth open, in front of a handful of people who watch on with blank faces.

This is what happens when you put an elephant to work for life. This is what happens when you place an animal under undue stress and force them to work in a highly demanding environment that is unnatural, cruel, and not suited for any creature.

I am heartbroken and angry at this unnecessary, completely preventable death. This should not have happened. These animals deserve respect, dignity and a life of freedom.

While key companies in the travel industry have signed a pledge to ban this cruel practice, and while public support against the practice is growing, every time another human being pays money to ride an elephant, this elephant riding industry will go on.

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