The AVMA condemns the use of guides to puncture, lacerate, strike or inflict harm upon an elephant. Elephant guides are husbandry tools that consist of a shaft capped by one straight and one curved end. The ends are blunt and tapered, and are used to touch parts of the elephant's body as a cue to elicit specific actions or behaviors, with the handler exerting very little pressure. The ends should contact, but should not tear or penetrate the skin.
The AVMA recommend tethers only be used when needed for specific medical and management purposes. Tethers provide a means to temporarily limit an elephant's movement for elephant or human safety and well-being. Tethers can be constructed of rope, chain, or nylon webbing, and their use and fit should not result in discomfort or skin injury. Forelimb tethers should be loose on the foot below the carpal joint, and hind limb tethers should fit snugly on the limb between the tarsus and knee joints. Tether length should be sufficient to allow the elephant to easily lie down and rise unless required for medical procedures for a limited period. The AVMA also recognizes that shorter or otherwise modified tethers may need to be applied for limited period of time to perform medical procedures safely.
Guides and tethers are used for training elephants in some elephant management systems, and appropriate training is important for facilitating veterinary care. However, guides and tethers should only be used in a manner consistent with the promotion of optimum welfare of the elephant. Personnel using these devices should be trained adequately, as well as introduced to alternative management systems.
Welfare Implications of Elephant Training