I do think it much worse than other tricks like teaching them to paint. (Not sure exactly how it works but have been told it involves taking advantage of the elephant’s natural trunk swing.) And, say, elephant polo, which I’ve played myself and seen how the elephants seem to enjoy it, although I doubt that can be classified as a “trick” per se. They get to run around and, as per World Elephant Polo Association guidelines, are not allowed to play two games in a row or more than two games a day. (A game consists of two 10-minute chukkers with a 15-minute interval between them.) Afterward they’re taken off for a shower and a nice rubdown. They have these big outdoor showers, and those are some happy elephants playing underneath the water.
Few things if any that are associated with Safari World can be good. Those guys are slime and just bribe their way out of any scrutiny. I’ve not heard of this tightrope trick from anyone else.
It is a problem, though, what to do with unemployed pachyderms. The government does not provide nearly as much support as it could or should. I remember when the logging ban was introduced, and IIRC, it was 22 years ago this month, in the wake of some serious mudslides in the South in November 1988. Countless tons of stacked logs washed down the mountains with the mud amid torrential rains and wiped out whole villages. So no more logging, which had gotten out of hand anyway. So what to do? I disapprove of the mahouts bringing their elephants into the city to beg but understand why they often have to resort to it. It’s illegal, and all sorts of measures have been proposed to prevent it, but nothing much seems to work for long. I’ve not seen any in the city for a while though, not since they started imposing some heavy fines on the mahouts, but again, what are they supposed to do? It’s quite a problem.