Ever since I was a child, when people talk about Thailand, I would immediately relate it to elephants. Thailand is greatly known for the huge presence of elephants in this country. Though I’ve heard some unfortunate news about some elephant abuse, there are still some good sanctuaries in Thailand that are sincerely looking after the welfare of these animals.
I felt so lucky that one of the most admired Elephant Sanctuaries is found near the area where we are staying. This is The Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. A sanctuary which aims to provide a better quality of life for both the elephants and the natives looking after them.
Elephants are certainly one of Thailand’s biggest tourist attractions, but a lot of people never think of visiting or seeing elephants in a responsible manner. Elephants are being abused as a form of entertainment, with organizers letting tourists to ride on their backs for a fee. But fortunately, there are many kind souls who rescue these animals from their abusive handlers, and take care of them in sanctuaries.
Instead of becoming part of the elephant exploitation, mistreatment and abuse by riding on their backs just for a show (or for your Facebook and Instagram feed), you can make a difference by visiting elephants sanctuaries. Fortunately, there are a growing number of such sanctuaries in the country.
These sanctuaries also educate tourists about the abuse, exploitation and the sad and terrible conditions of these elephants when they used to stay at riding camps and circuses. Thanks to these sanctuaries, tourists now express less interest in riding elephants as they wish nothing but healthy, free and happy lives for these gentle giants.
Well, anyway… when I arrived at the place, I (together with other tourists) was immediately instructed to wear a specific shirt that would not only protect my clothing but would also make the elephants be familiar and comfortable with me. We don’t want to experience a stressed elephant, right?
A guide came to orient us of how the entire sanctuary operates right before we could meet the elephants. It was made clear that riding an elephant was strictly prohibited as they would only want the elephants to feel relaxed all throughout.
When we all got the information needed prior to our ‘meeting’, elephants were then one by one met by us within the camp. It was a truly amazing experience for me. I got to feed the elephants with the supplied fruits such as watermelon, sugar canes and bananas. I can tell the elephants enjoyed the time as much as we all did. In this sanctuary, there were clearly no signs that the elephants here were abused and deprived of food. And I am glad to see and prove that in person.
After giving them a few treats, we then went on to give the elephants a good bath.
Our guide made mention that mud, specifically, gives protection to elephants from the extremities of the sun and some of their friendly bugs in there. They sure love rolling in mud and splashing in water. After this, we got to rinse them as well.
This surely is one very memorable experience for me. I hope you guys would have a chance to visit and have a great encounter with the elephants too.