Cambodia’s most iconic tourist attraction Angkor Wat will end its elephant rides by 2020. The religious monument—which attracts more than 2.5 million tourists every year—used the elephants to transport tourists to and from the temples. The site’s remaining 14 elephants will be transferred to a conservation and breeding center. “In early 2020, our association plans to end the use of elephants to transport tourists,” Oan Kiry, Director of the Angkor Elephant Group Committee, told media outlet The Phnom Penh Post. “They can still watch the elephants and take photos of them in our conservation and breeding center. We want the elephants to live in as natural a manner as possible.” The use of elephants at Angkor Wat first received international attention in 2016 after one elephant collapsed and died from exhaustion after carrying two tourists, one at a time, between two temples in the ancient archeological complex. At the time, a petition to end elephant riding at Angkor Wat garnered more than 14,000 signatures in just 48 hours.
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