Bangladesh's biggest zoo has called time on elephant rides following a long-running campaign by activists.

The ban was quietly introduced last month, Dhaka zoo curator Nurul Islam told AFP, adding it would never been lifted.

"We agree that these rides were not good for the animals," Islam said, acknowledging the efforts of animal rights groups.

"Elephant rides are a kind of animal abuse and cruelty towards the animal."

The zoo in Bangladesh's capital has five Asian elephants aged between 10 and 30.

It is home to more than 2,500 creatures from 137 species -- including eight endangered Bengal tigers.

Islam said the elephants had previously been made to give rides to up to 1,000 spectators a day before the ban.

"The mahouts (elephant caretakers) are unhappy that we stopped a source of their income, but it was clear that the animals were suffering for the rides," he added.

Rubaiya Ahmad of the Bangladesh Animal Welfare Foundation welcomed the news as "fantastic".