By 2020, elephant rides will no longer be allowed at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
In 2016, an elephant died while giving ride to tourists, triggered an outpouring of grief and criticism on social media. A petition was posted on change.org addressed to the Apsara Authority who oversees the Angkor archaeological site, calling for the end of elephant riding. This practice had been offering to tourists since 2001 at this UNESCO World Heritage.
According to the official announcement, all animals will be moved to a new home in a jungle. There are 14 working elephants at Angkor Wat, some of whom are old and weak. Five have already been moved to a forest some 40 kilometers away from the site. They will live out their natural lives there.
Angkor Wat, built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, are Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of national pride that appears on the Cambodian flag.