elephant sanctuary in Thailand

elephant sanctuary in Thailand

Our trip to Thailand wouldn’t be complete with out some sort of elephant experience. I began researching and came across 100’s of different places throughout Thailand that you could choose from. While reading a few of my favorite travel blogs I came across Alex’s post about The Elephant Nature Park. After comparing it with a few other parks it was easy to make the choice. This elephant sanctuary in Thailand provides an amazing and educational experience while practicing great ecotourism.

elephant sanctuary thailand nature park elephant sanctuary thailand

Elephant Nature Park is really a sanctuary whose main focus is creating a natural safe haven for elephants from Thailand who have been injured, abused or both, due to the expanse of the tourism and the ending of the logging industry which leaves them useless to families who can’t afford to care for them. They also help rebuild the land and provide care for several hundreds of homeless dogs (my heaven!). 

Many of the rescued elephants have physical scarring of their abused past. Others had very visible handicaps from the variety of work they were forced into. In the park, the elephants make their own families, or herds. The park has nothing to do with it, other than making sure they are suitable to be around elephants safely. The amazing thing about this is that all the handicapped elephants chose to form their own family! They had a member with a stiff leg, another with a large foot injury from stepping on landmine and even one with a dipped spine from tourist riding for over 20 years. The stories we were told about each elephant grew harder to hear as the day went on. To witness the personalities and playfulness of each elephant made it difficult to believe regardless of the physical evidence and scars left by their horrible past.

elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand tribal trunk
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand bath
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand babies
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand in field
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand trunk up
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand speckled eye
 Elephant Nature Park has saved dozens of elephants since opening in the early 90’s. They currently have 36 in their care and have birthed 11 on site. The package we chose (Pamper a Pachyderm) had us walking through the reserve for six hours with five lovely lady elephants. These elephants were able to walk freely with us, no ropes, chains or hooks. All that was needed was lots, and lots, and lots… and lots of bananas. Our guide, Mine, joked that when asked how much elephants eat his response is “I’ll be able to tell you when I see one stop.” Its true, at one point I thought Wade was a goner because he was not shelling out the food fast enough. ☺️
 We were able to help the elephants play and bath in the river, then had an amazing lunch, rafted down the river to the main park. The main park is where most visitors spend their day for the “single day visit” package. We watched two separate herds, play and swim after their “work day” of eating bananas and watermelon. Each herd had a baby which were just too cute for words. 
Even with all that amazingness the best part of our day was being lucky enough to catch the mahout (elephant trainer/caregiver) for two elephants with the best story. Get your tissues ready for this one.

The first elephant rescued was Mae Perm. She had a difficult past and her baby was taken from her far too soon and injured her previous owner because of it. Jokia came to the park years later with a horrific past and she is now blind due to being stabbed in her eyes. (I know, I’m sorry) Well upon her arrival, Mae Perm took her under her care. They have been completely inseparable since. Mae Perm is Jokia’s eyes. When we came upon them, Jokia stayed back while Mae Perm came and checked out each individual in our group (there were 10 of us). When I say checked out I mean came up, pushed against you. She made a deep low noise at Wade until his sunglasses were removed! She gave the all clear to Jokia and the love fest began. Jokia was just the sweetest of all the elephants we met that day. The others were kind and full of personality but truthfully if you were out of treats, they were off to explore the grounds and enjoy their freedom. Jokia only wanted to snuggle and enjoy your company, no treats needed.

 elephant nature park sanctuary thailand jokia elephant sanctuary thailand   elephant nature park sanctuary thailand jokia elephant sanctuary thailand

This experience changed me. It was beyond perfect day and impacted both our lives forever.  I’m so happy that I was able to have this day with Wade since he is not always around to join in on my adventures. I’m also happy that I took the time to find a place that would bring more than entertainment to our trip.

 elephant nature park sanctuary thailand in field elephant sanctuary thailand

:::stepping on my internet soapbox:::

One of the important things to take away from this is ecotourism. Even when you are traveling your actions and money greatly effect the environment, wildlife and people that surround you. Make sure when you make your travel arrangements that your money is going towards the good that is going on in the world.

Thailand is a developing country and there are lots of opportunities for activities that benefit the further growth and well being of this stunning country. Unfortunately, there are just as many enticing activities that don’t. We could have gone to a park where we rode elephants, took pictures with baby tigers and even spent some time with a northern hill tribes people. It didn’t take much time for me to come across in my research which places were looking out for the welfare of all and the ones that were looking to make money. I doubt a happy healthy tiger will lay there for hours to be cuddled and kissed on a chain without being sedated. The hill tribes have changed their practices with time but still use disfigurement on select young girls to display and to attract tourist. Please think critically at home and when traveling about the businesses you support.

:::stepping down:::

OK, here are some more happy elephants.

elephant nature park sanctuary thailand bum scratching elephant sanctuary thailand
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand bum
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park sanctuary thailand tribal trunk
elephant sanctuary thailand elephant nature park santuary thailand talking
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4 Comments
  • Soraya says:

    What a beautiful experience! I am so weary of the many places in Thailand that offer experiences with elephants. I hate he concept of elephant riding, because you just don’t know how they take care of the elephants. Your experience looks so much more authentic, and I can feel that this places has provided a more safe haven for elephants.

  • Michelle says:

    I’ve seen this place on a documentary before and it’s nice to read about someone writing about their own experience. I hope that many other travellers will consider their actions when taking part in things like elephant rides, or walking with lions. Very often the animals are drugged, which no doubt reduces their wild instincts.

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      I agree. I think so many people are unaware of the problem that persist with animal tourism. Elephant Nature Park is really doing a lot to try and educate people on the issue.

  • neha says:

    wonderful experience up close with the elephants. But I see none of these have got their teeth. Is it removed on purpose? From your post looks like the elephants are happy here. But I got wondering when didn’t see the teeth.

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