Captive Elephants or Domesticated Elephants

Captive Elephant or Domesticated Elephant

Should the elephants living at the Mondulkiri Project’s elephant sanctuary be classified as Captive Elephants or Domesticated Elephants?

The capture and taming of elephants began in the Indus Valley more than 4,000 years ago and people have continued to capture, train and work them since that time.  Captive Asian elephants are often referred to as domesticated, but this is an erroneous use of the term.

Animals such as horses, cows and dogs have been successfully domesticated Captive elephants are tamed, not domesticated.

True domestication requires many, many generations of selective breeding, isolated from wild populations, and results in genetic adaptation to living in the company and service of people. This has never been done with elephants.

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