Written By: Cherene Saradar
Elephant Nature Park
Everyone loves elephants. Many people love them so much that they wish to interact with them and ride them. Sadly, the vast majority of these interactions cause great harm to these magnificent creatures we all love.
Luckily there is a way to interact with elephants without causing them harm. Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, Thailand is a place where animal lovers can truly have an ethical elephant interaction in Thailand. You go as a volunteer and can choose a day trip, stay over night or even an entire week.
Delicious vegetarian meals made from locally grown farms is included and they provide a rustic cabin with ensuite bathroom. Before you get to have fun with the elephants, you learn why the elephants needed to be rescued in the first place and why most tourist attractions are horrible for them.
On the first day you get a quick tour of the sanctuary with your guide. You will see various elephant families on this tour and are allowed to interact with a few of the elephants, usually the elderly female elephants. Each has a sad story. Many were in the logging industry where they worked long hours until they dropped. Many are deformed from broken limbs. The circus is responsible for many of theses rescues. Some are partially or fully blind from untreated eye infections and years of flash photography. Some elephants were 70, 80 and 90 years old and spent most of that time miserable as slaves.
After orientation, you have lunch and then you get to bathe an elephant in the river. It is really adorable watching the old lady elephant get pampered while she eats bananas. In the evening, the day volunteers go home and the overnight volunteers have dinner. There’s cash bar and wifi to keep you entertained in the evening, as if the dogs and cats aren’t enough!
The next day you will take a morning jungle trek to see a few elephants that were placed in the forest. You also get another opportunity for elephant bathing as well as food preparation and feeding the elephants.
Be a Hero for Elephants
This is an amazing place to support with your tourist dollars. You can continue to support their work after leaving as well. For more information or to donate click here: Elephant Nature Park. Also, I am collaborating with an amazing online store called Trunk Collective. All products are sustainably sourced from artisans around the world and are cruelty-free. Right now 5% of proceeds will be donated to Elephant Nature Park. If you want to shop and feel good about it, this is a great place to start.
Remember, elephants belong in the wild. They don’t want to play soccer, dance or paint. Also, they have strong family bonds, deep friendships and hate being alone. Don’t be part of the problem and instead, spread the word!