Image 1 of 1
A 30-year-old female captive elephant takes a break from work in Kin Thar Elephant Camp. In a country where most basic social protections were absent during the decades of dictatorship, life was arguably less harsh for elephants than for ordinary people. The military governments adhered to a strict labor code for elephants that had been drawn up in British colonial times: eight-hour work days, five-day work weeks, retirement at 55, mandatory maternity leave, summer vacations, and good medical care. The government still runs elephant maternity camps and retirement communities. Despite being captive and enduring years of arduous work, academic studies have documented that Myanmar’s working elephants live into their 50s or 60s, which is more than twice as long as elephants in European zoos.