Do happy elephants in Thailand exist?

Elephants is a must have view for everyone who goes to Asia for the first time. There are many myths around the breeding of elephants. These very intelligent creatures, whose natural environment was almost completely destroyed, had to completely change their adaptation to life. First things first…

First of all, it should be mentioned that there are two species of elephants in the world – African and Indian. African are much larger than the second one type. They live in a bush, at large, they will not interact with a human being. The latter are much milder and if they were born in captivity, they naturally live in friendship with man. But would not it be better to let them go? Straight to their natural environment?

Charlie elephant fed with bananas
For such a toddler, Charlie had a very big appetite

Well, no. Even if their natural environment is gone. For the last few decades, huge jungle lands in Thailand have turned into small national parks full of people. With almost 80% afforestation of the country to about 20-30%. From the population of elephants with almost 100,000 individuals to less than 2,000. Elephant sanctuaries really help them, saving them many times before they die. Animals living in them have been saved or redeemed from various types of tourist farms, circuses and other places where these creatures are treated objectively. Freed animals have here a peaceful life, food and a lot of love. Profits from tourism in sanctuaries are devoted precisely to maintaining elephants, nurturing, living conditions or catering for farmers cultivating the surrounding fields.

Barbaric places are still exists

Of course, there are a lot of centers in Thailand where these animals are harmed, tortured. I will not show them pictures here (we passed by), because the view is monstrous and the article was to be kept in a pleasant tone. That is why before booking a trip you should check exactly what kind of place we are dealing with. More and more Thai people understand the mistakes of the past, and the tourism promotion of places that care for animals is conducive to their protection. Ja wybrałem Elephant Jungle Sanctuary w Chiang Mai, polecone przez Born Globals. Elephant Nature Park also enjoys positive opinions. Tickets should be booked in advance, because these “positive places” are the most popular.

Boy photographed elephants
Charlie likes to get other elephants under his feet
Everyone happy, including the elephant!

The elephant sanctuary is on my list of the best attractions in Thailand. By far the most interesting thing when visiting Chiang Mai. I realize that this is also a tourist attraction, but I believe that if we pay for it, we help those elephants who would suffer without it in circuses or would be used as a transport of goods, this is the right goal.

Karmienie słonia bananami
“I love you not only when you give me bananas”

Tear in the elephant’s eye

At 6 o’clock in the morning, we were picked up from Jimmy and Jeng Homestay and transported to the place by pickup. Along the way, we picked up a couple from Canada, London and Brazil. Initially, the conversation was not sticky, everyone was sleepy. And it was also cold – yes, in Thailand you can experience it too. Mornings can be quite cold. It was better when we got a coffee on the way. Both when it comes to heat and conversation. 🙂

Happy elephant taking away bananas
“Give me more!!!”
A boy leaning against an elephant
This animal from up close is really beautiful
Jungle of Thailand
View from the sanctuary was beautiful
Elephant eating grass
An adult elephant eats more than 150 kg of food a day

When we were on the spot we were told about the sanctuary. We get to know about each elephant and were informed about the plan for the rest of the day (it was full-day trip).
We got a linen cloth in characteristic patterns, which informed the elephants that we were coming in friendly purposes. Thanks to this they did not have to get used to new people for every time. A very practical solution.
T-shirt had a pocket where bananas for elephants could be hidden. They were included in the price, with no limit. Elephants are hard to overfeed. These powerful bodies consume a lot of energy to move themselves – that’s why they eat all the time. They are very similar to people – many of us would like to eat and sleep. I would like to be included in this group. But I would have to accept the elephant dimensions …

“This gentleman looks delicious too!”
Elephant standing on the grass
INTERESTING: When an elephant stands on the grass, it will not eat it anymore. It loses all juices under such weight.
Welcome to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Welcome to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary!

After what we heard about their history, how they were tortured before they came here … When we could finally approach the elephants, stand by them, touch, take pictures, feed … These are unforgettable and moving moments, because I have just learned how much they have been through, and now they trustfully pull out the trumpet to welcome us, obliterating our hands in search of food.. Incredibly brave and strong (despite their delicacy) animals. When I looked at the elephant girl deeply in her brown eyes, it was obvious that she had gone through a lot and was happy that she could now live in a quieter place in which she cared for her physical and mental health.

Błotna kąpiel!

An elephant taping in the mud.
Elephants just love it. Nobody forces them to do it, they come down here when they feel like it!
People and happy elephants in the mud

Everyone could stain the elephant here … And vice versa!

After feeding elephants in several camps (elephants are divided into smaller camps, where several elephants are living, they are somehow adopted families) we went with them to… a mud lake. After a mud bath, walk with the animals to the source of the river to wash off the mud. We threw mud on the elephants (clothes didn’t wipe out till today, despite several times washing at higher temperatures than recommended), and then we cleaned them off. This mud actually cleans the fragile skin of elephants. Then you could wash in the icy water, and then a Thai-style dinner was prepared for us. Maybe all of this is boring for you, but believe me – it was one of the most exciting days in Thailand. Certainly it is better seen in the pictures.:)

Thai painting my back
What reminds you of it?
Elephant painted on my back.
You guessed it will be an elephant?
Walk along the river with elephants
After a muddy bath time for water!
Elephants bathing in the mud
It’s time to wash the mud!
people pouring water on elephants
Water was everywhere

Elephants in a water bath

People bather in the river
Then everyone was all right if it was wet or dirty 😉
Drawing of an elephant on the back
It was not easy to wash it off

I washing out of water

I am very happy that these animals, who would be doomed to death, can find a second life in such places. In the depths of my soul there is sadness and sorrow, because you know that it would be better for them in a natural environment, and now they have no way to experience it. As for our real estate, the fee that I paid for elephants (around PLN 280) was not particularly big as for all day attractions. And the thought that it will help elephants in a dignified life, deprived of poachers and climate change, this amount seems even smaller.



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You can find previous articles from Thailand here.
Me on the photos from journey.