If you ever find yourself in Thailand or are planning to go anywhere nearby, make sure to take a trip to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, you won’t regret it! I am so happy to have spent some time here and will tell you why …
In the middle of the hills in a huge open space in the thick of the northern Thai jungle you will find the grounds of Elephant Nature Park which is currently home to 72 elephants and its volunteers. The nature park rescues elephants from all walks of life and gives them the home and space they deserve.
It is the horrible truth that elephants are seen as domesticated animals in Thailand and are used and abused for the purposes of making a living and tourism. Many elephants in Thailand are harmed by humans for many years, if not for their whole lives, and are typically used for logging (although it is now has been made illegal) circus acts, painting shows, street begging, trekking and riding camps, all of which are completely unnatural and harmful.
Most of the elephants at the park have been through a process not a lot of people know about or want to speak about or see. It is called the phajaan and involves days, sometimes weeks, of torture and abuse to break the elephants spirit in order to train them into submission. It is heart-breaking and is sadly still happening in places around the world today.
As it is a rescue and rehabilitation centre, Elephant Nature Park focus their care and attention on the needs of the elephants and rescue them one at a time. Most of the elephants have to be bought out of captivity, however a few elephants were given to the nature park or found by them. Some of the injuries and disabilities the elephants suffer include damage to their feet due to landmines, scars and wounds from human abuse, permanent injuries from trekking and riding, blindness and distress.
Not only is visiting an amazing experience, it shows support to the nature park and the work they are carrying out. Money from visitors goes towards the huge amounts of food for the elephants as well as keeping the park functioning.
Itinerary for day visit:
- Watched videos on the minibus to the park giving background information on the nature park and the rules. We also saw footage taken of the elephant industry in Thailand.
- Given a run down of the day by our nature park guide.
- Fed the elephants a huge basket of bananas and watermelons from the viewing platform.
- Took a tour of the park on foot, visiting different families and heard’s.
- Met some of the elephants and found out more information about their lives and visited some of the separated elephants.
- Had a huge vegetarian lunch buffet.
- Bathed the elephants in the river and took lots of bananas and buckets to do it.
- Went to the mud bath area to see them cool down.
- Saw all the other animals the nature park is home to, which is over 200 cats and dogs.
- Went to the elephant medical centre and saw some before and after pictures of some of the worst cases but best rescues.
Without a doubt it was the best Sunday ever. My heart was so full!
If this blog post doesn’t persuade you to go, take a look at my GoPro video of a day spent at the park.
Preaching isn’t my thing, but if you are in Thailand make sure to do your research and visit a place which supports helping not harming the elephants.
Spread the knowledge and go and visit Elephant Nature Park !!