Lots of sites warn you not to ride elephants as they are often treated poorly and don't have freedom (1,2).

But these sites also mention that it’s bad for the back of an elephant. With some elephants weighing 4,000kg (3), it’s hard to believe that a human weighing 2% of that weight can do any damage to it.

They aren't built for any heavy lifting (4). But I feel like it goes for any animal that they would be able to carry an additional 2% on their backs.

So how come elephants are so vulnerable to carrying stuff on their backs?

  • 2
    In your first and second resource it is mentioned "Instead of smooth, round spinal disks, elephants have sharp bony protrusions that extend upwards from their spine," Carol Buckley, president of Elephant Aid International, said. "These bony protrusions and the tissue protecting them are vulnerable to weight and pressure coming from above." Isn't this already an answer to your question or do you not trust this statement or is this still not sufficient to convince you?
    – Maxim
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 12:45
  • 5
    @Maxim They make saddles for elephants, assuming a correct saddle is used both the elephants spine and the riders backside should be protected. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 12:54
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    @Maxim I do not entirely trust the statement, as its quite hard to research an elephant (they don't fit in an MRI). And i'm specifically asking about the relative small weight of a human. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 13:20
  • 1
    You don't need an MRI to study an elephant, or any other creature. You can simply perform autopsies (or even vivisection, though I'd hope that is no longer practiced).
    – user2276
    Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 20:29
  • @HorusKol I know this is pedantic, but technically it's a necropsy not an autopsy, when performed on a non-human animal. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 21:59


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