Today, I fed and bathed elephants that were rescued from abuse and neglect. I visited the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai and spent a day with these gentle giants. It was a beautiful experience to be with them up close.
Elephant Nature Park Day Trip by Save Elephant Foundation
Chiang Mai, Thailand
October 24, 2012
with female elephant Jampeng
after taking a bath, they covered themselves with mud for protection (from the sun and from insect bites)
Elephant Nature Park
Unlike other elephant tourist attractions in Thailand, these elephants are treated very differently. At Elephant Nature Park, elephants don’t do tricks and people don’t ride them (except for the mahouts/caretakers).
Instead of violence, mahouts train their elephants with love and positive reinforcement. Bull hooks are not allowed, only fruit and vegetables to get the elephants to listen to their caretakers.
feeding the elephant
I also learned about the elephant tourism industry and how many of these elephants have lost their jobs before since logging was banned in Thailand. These elephants were left without work and are in need of places to stay.
In Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park, there are no shows, no rides, no painting. The interaction the people get when they visit or volunteer is feeding, bathing and watching these animals.
feeding the elephants
I’m planning to write a more detailed report of the activity after a couple of weeks. For now, here are a few photos to share – does it show that I’m too excited to share pictures first? hehe.
I’m just overwhelmed by this experience.
Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
Day Trip Cost: 2500 Baht
It might seem expensive which actually is, for this budget traveller. But the experience is truly worth it. The proceeds go to the park itself, and if you’re informed how much the costs are to maintain these elephants, then you’ll understand better why this is so.
young elephant playing with mud
The Elephant Nature Park is one of the projects of Save Elephant Foundation. There may be other camps that slightly cost less, but I take pride knowing how the staff here genuinely cares for these creatures. When I come back to Chiang Mai, and if budget permits, I wish to volunteer there for at least a week.
bathing an elephant at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
Save Elephant Foundation is a Thai non–profit organization dedicated to providing care and assistance to Thailand’s captive elephant population through a multifaceted approach involving local community outreach, rescue and rehabilitation programs, and educational ecotourism operations.
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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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