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Elephant Nature Park Review – Chiang Mai

Elephant Nature Park Review

Lastly, the day we’d eagerly appeared ahead to had arrived – it was time to visit the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai! And it totally lived as much as our expectations, and more.

Our journey started once we woke early for the 8am decide up, which was to be instantly from our room. Within the Elephant Nature Park’s minivan, there were seven others alongside for the experience. So along with our travelling household of five, the minivan was full at 12 passengers. Our information from the Elephant Nature Park, Por, introduced herself before switching on a DVD for us to observe on the best way.

There were two elements to the DVD. The primary was a mini documentary, explaining the darkish aspect of elephants being used for tourism in Thailand. The second part defined the security rules and tips of the park, and prepared us for what we have been all about to see.

I was feeling unexpectedly emotional watching the DVD, seeing and listening to about elephants being abused for tourism. This included child elephants, who have been being made to work the streets at night time, separated from their mothers. I’m positive the poor moms have been fretting simply as a lot as the weak, valuable babies. All of the while, their mahout (coach) stood to earn so much extra money than a mean Thai worker would ever make in every week or extra. On the DVD, they pointed out the telltale behaviours and indicators that these baby elephants have been burdened and scared. It was heartbreaking.

However it didn’t finish there.

We also discovered that many elephants at the Elephant Nature Park have been (and nonetheless are) emotionally traumatised. Nearly all of the elephants which might be rescued have ongoing mental points, because of the abuse by the hands of their mahouts. A number of the most effected elephants will regularly rock forwards and backwards.

How can this be allowed to happen?

Probably the most disturbing story that left me holding back a barrage of tears was listening to the story of one of many female elephants, Jokia. When the logging commerce turned illegal, her house owners might not afford to maintain her. She was bought to a different owner and was once more put to work. Later, Jokia turned pregnant. When she gave delivery, her baby — still within the sac — fell down the mountainside. She tried to rescue her baby but she couldn’t — her child died. She went into a melancholy and didn’t need to work. She simply wouldn’t move.

Utilizing a slingshot, Jokia’s mahout would purpose it at the mourning elephant’s eye, hitting her in an try and pressure her to maneuver. Solely at some point, Jokia obtained so fed up with the slingshot, that she hit out at her mahout together with her trunk. He retaliated by stabbing her in the eye with a knife, blinding her immediately. Hadn’t this poor elephant been by way of sufficient?

It was such a lucky day when Lek, the Elephant Park’s founder, met Jokia’s and heard her story. She was deeply moved and provided to buy her. But, the worth was all the time too high for what she might afford. Thankfully, Lek was ultimately capable of reach a deal to purchase Jokia, who was blind in both eyes and in determined need of a loving house. Lastly, she was free.

Sadly, most of the elephants on the Elephant Nature Park are blind in a single or both eyes. This is principally because of the horrific remedy from their earlier mahouts. However surprisingly, one elephant turned blind as a consequence of tourists continually taking pictures with a flash (you are not allowed to use flash images at the park). At the Elephant Nature Park, there are also elephants who have been significantly injured after stepping on landmines, being hit by automobiles, or with ft which were maimed from traps. While the physical wounds might have healed, there isn’t a doubt some emotional wounds are still there, as they limp across the park.

Many elephants have been rescued from the merciless, soul destroying training from tourist driving camps too. Even after the elephants have been broken in, they’re trapped into a lifetime of tourism slavery, chained up at night time ready for the subsequent day of vacationers. What a depressing existence. It’s no marvel they arrive at the Elephant Nature Park in such poor mental condition.

Shopping for these elephants in an attempt to save lots of them is a double edged sword. It’s still a profitable enterprise when you buy the elephants, fuelling the demand. It’s also expensive for these making an attempt to rescue elephants.

With a lump in my throat as we drove previous many elephant driving camps, I hoped I might be capable of hold back the emotion from what I’d simply discovered. An unimaginable quantity of vacationers flock to journey these lovely creatures each single day — do they not know that these poor previous souls are painfully tortured with bullhooks to be damaged in for driving?

By the best way, this can be a bullhook:



If that appears harmless, or when you assume it may be enjoyable to experience an elephant, click right here. These harmless creatures don’t deserve this.

Arriving At The Elephant Nature Park

Round an hour and a half after being picked up from our lodge — together with a 10 minute break on the best way — we finally arrived at the Elephant Nature Park. We have been proven to a desk, particularly reserved for our group. There were a lot of individuals at the park already (should you make your personal strategy to the park, you can start earlier). They have been in groups of 12 and with a delegated tour guide, identical to us.

Por explained a number of housekeeping gadgets, then it was onto the first activity: feeding the elephants. This instantly lifted our spirits — one thing we might do for these mild giants who’ve had a lifetime of struggling.

So, what does an elephant eat? Alot.

The Elephant Nature Park have a group getting ready food for the elephants and different animals non stop. Annually, the fee involves round $250,000! So earlier than you groan about an entry charge, think about that an elephant spends around 18 hours of the day consuming (virtually as much as my youngsters). This equates to around 200 kilograms of food day by day per elephant. Think about all the elephants on the park, and also you’re getting ready three tonnes of food day-after-day. That’s pretty spectacular.

To offer you a visual concept of what an elephant may eat, here is a snack for an elephant — which we had the pleasure of helping out with. Watermelon, sugar cane and cucumber.

Elephant Snack!

Our youngest daughter (who is nearly three) was so excited to return and see the elephants, however nerves acquired the better of her at feeding time, and she or he turned frightened. But she was very protected, as it’s essential to step behind a line which makes positive the elephants can’t slap you in all the excitement to grab extra food (wow, sounding much more like my home).

We all had a flip feeding them and then it was time to go out for our first walk into the park.

The first cease was to an undercover space which featured a communication whiteboard, listing all of the animals that have been undergoing remedy for injuries or sickness. The Elephant Rescue Park also rescues different animals, like canine, cats, buffalo and so forth.

Scroll down now when you’ve got a squeamish abdomen, however I feel it’s necessary to see what these poor animals are going by means of by the hands of males.

The pictures under present the foot of one of many elephants that was rescued and treated on the Elephant Nature Park, after stepping on a landmine:

Elephant landmine injuries

There have been quite a couple of elephants being treated for landmine accidents. Landmines aren’t a lot an issue in Thailand — the injuries are likely to happen close to the Cambodian border. Unfortunately Cambodia nonetheless has a devastating landmine drawback, as I wrote about after my visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum.

And sure, the Elephant Nature Park will go to the extent of rescuing elephants from the border of one other nation. They’ll put them behind a truck, and slowly drive all the best way to the park, often in double the time of a traditional automotive. You see, they should make plenty of stops to buy meals for the rescued elephant. In any case, they do eat for 18 hours of the day. How’s that for dedication of the park employees?!

Before we moved on past the undercover area, we have been proven an elephant tooth. It was large, the dimensions and width of my hand! Most of the older elephants haven’t any tooth, in order that they have to be fed mushy meals.

Right here’s an image of the primary park office and viewing deck:

Elephant Nature Park grounds

The small group of elephants we noticed next included a couple of elephants with accidents to their ft. One in every of them had a foot that was disfigured and very swollen and purple. This was as a consequence of being caught in a lure when he was youthful. As they wandered off, it was time to maneuver once more.

But earlier than we moved on to see more elephants, I snuck in a fast snap with the youngsters (I’m not often in photographs, all the time behind the digital camera!). It’s truly really arduous to get a private or family photograph, because there are so many individuals eager to do the same. Most photographs you’re taking may have someone else in it!


When elephants arrive on the park, they shortly type very special bonds with particular elephants. They stay together and look out for one another, which is completely lovable. For instance, a non-blind elephant will bond with a blind one, they usually’ll hang out on a regular basis. All the time.

It’s somewhat nerve-racking being around the blind elephants although — they imply you no harm, however they rely on hearing to outlive. So in the event that they hear a noise and need to investigate, they plough on by way of, not realising that you simply’re there. So you need to concentrate on your surroundings at all times, and pay attention to the blind elephants. It’s essential to speak to them by identify should you’re approaching or patting them, in order that they know you’re there for them. Whereas your information will let you recognize if you’re round a blind elephant, they are pretty straightforward to identify — their eyes have cloudy coatings. Ugh. It’s so onerous not to really feel sorry for these lovely creatures. Sight is such a valuable present — a present that was unfairly stolen from these beautiful elephants.

Next, we met one other group of elephants. Amongst them is the gorgeous Jokia. I needed to offer her an incredible huge hug and tell her I was sorry for the ache she had been by way of. But in fact, all of these elephants have suffered all the same.

The group of elephants have been all consuming in fact (they actually do not stop eating!) and a few have been having an excellent scratch. I feel this have to be the elephants’ favourite scratching tree — should you look intently, you’ll notice that it appears very properly polished and glossy!

Elephant having a scratch

It was time to maneuver on and head again in — it was time for lunch! How that flew.

The Elephant Nature Park put on a powerful lunch buffet for an hour. The food was vegetarian which was a nice contact. While I’m not vegetarian (though the extra I journey, the less meat I need to eat after seeing all I have) the food was very tasty. I enjoyed a surprisingly delicious cup of tea too! Since lunch was included with entry, I expected something primary, so it was a pleasant shock to have a full belly of yummy Thai food.

After lunch, we had an hour of free time. We loved elephant watching from a distance, as well as wandering around speaking to employees and visitors from everywhere in the world. There was even somebody who knew of my website, BellyBelly! We also had cuddles with the park’s other inhabitants, who too are rescued — and desperately needing loving furever houses.

Dogs at Elephant Nature Park

The Elephant Nature Park can also be house to around 400 canine. The household pleasant canine roam free, but others needing love and coaching are in massive dog runs. The park has rescued canine from mass baiting packages and different atrocities, including the unlawful canine meat trade in Laos and Vietnam.

You possibly can sponsor or adopt these canine from most nations (they wont send them to Australia or New Zealand, as a consequence of lengthy quarantine necessities). Or you can choose to be a volunteer aircraft buddy. If there’s a canine going to a house in your nation, you could be the dog’s escort to help him or her get there (for free of charge to you). The canine can’t fly alone, so in the event you’re serious about serving to, yow will discover out more details on the ENP’s dog rescue page. Additionally they rescue cats.

After lunch, it was time for one thing really fun and thrilling – elephant washing! The elephants have a every day bathing ritual, the place they get to take pleasure in (you guessed it) consuming — whereas being bathed by humans. The elephants made their strategy to the river, and we have been all given a bucket!

Elephant washing river

The washing started:

Elephant washing

However in fact, it was solely a matter of time till this occurred:

Elephant park waterfight

Before I knew it, there was water flying excessive over each side of the elephants. Everyone was drenched (aside from myself, who shrieked mercy since I used to be holding a digital camera!). As soon as the elephants — and individuals — have been sufficiently soaked, we left the river and gathered above the riverbank, have been the elephants have been shifting on to the subsequent merchandise in their agenda.

You see, elephants have a backwards washing ritual. Right after they’ve had a wash, they go and throw dust and dirt throughout themselves. For some elephants, this is followed by strolling underneath the deck (pictured under), and giving the top of their back a very good previous scratch.

Elephant dirty

After spending some time with these beautiful guys, we moved on to satisfy some extra elephants.

This subsequent group consisted of four grownup females and a male baby, who was 2 years previous. Elephants are very protecting of their infants. All over the place you go, you’ll see them forming a wall across the baby, regardless of if they’re eating or shifting across the park.

There is something actually special about elephants. You possibly can really feel their bond and loyalty to at least one one other.

Elephant Nature Park feeding

Soon after, it was time for an afternoon tea break, which concerned another cup of tea and some yummy treats. Once more we sat round and chatted with other friends, before being informed that there was only one extra stroll left for the day, earlier than it was time to go house. Boo!

By now, the park was really muddy – there had been quite a little bit of rain. Fortuitously, the climate was heat, however not as scorching as the town. It was really pleasant, even with the rain.

In case you assume that you would be able to get away with sporting thongs for this journey, assume again. Unfortunately for me, my daughter adopted my only pair of footwear (which she then broke!) a couple of nations prior. So we have been each sporting thongs. A number of occasions I stored walking alongside whereas my thongs have been behind me, caught in the mud.

Right here’s one more reason to not wear thongs, demonstrated by my daughter. I had the same fate, just not as dangerous:Thongs at Elephant Nature Park

Each step was a slosh of mud up the back of our legs!

Speaking of legs, on this final leg of our journey, we enjoyed an informative chat with our tour information, Por. We discovered that the park had to cease their breeding program, as they not have the area to grow. There’s one male elephant who is separated from the others, as his high testosterone levels make him a bit aggressive, and naturally, they will not breed. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop the opposite elephants from heading over to talk to him by way of the limitations. All of them attain out with their trunks and repetitively contact each other, as if they’re having an enormous catch up chat. It was lovely to observe!

We also discovered that when the child elephants get old enough, the males determine to go off with the opposite males and the females with other females. And apparently, feminine elephants could be quite the drama queen too, which we have been witness to! They’ll make all types of noises for those who disturb or inconvenience them in any means. Completely cute! We did take pleasure in listening to all the trumpeting happening all day.

However one factor is for positive, when a baby elephant freaks out, you progress! Typically babies can get spooked and take off. It units off an entourage of elephants making a hasty beeline for the child, forming a circle round her or him, till the infant has calmed down. When the child feels protected and wanders off, solely then does the circle break.

In some methods, I feel elephants are extra human than we are.

The top of the day came around far too soon. I might have liked to do an overnight or perhaps a week keep, however with a toddler, we have been restricted in what we might do. Nevertheless, I do know I might be again again some day. You’ll be able to’t help but be drawn to wanting to assist in giving back the heavy debt of human kindness owed to these magnificent elephants.

Supporting The Elephant Nature Park and Spreading Consciousness

You’d be forgiven for considering tourist points of interest are all about revenue, nevertheless it’s clear to see that the Elephant Nature Park runs on 110% ardour, dedication and love.

The cost of operating this park and saving elephants could be very high. Not only is there a huge workforce of employees across the clock, tonnes of food to buy and put together every day, a excessive value to buy the elephants, and now, the huge value of land if they’re able to rescue any extra elephants. They’re at capability, and have needed to stop their breeding program. Visiting the Elephant Nature Park or making a donation will assist this superb place to continue to run.

But most necessary of all – please do not help the driving of elephants, or any elephant camps the place elephants are used as entertainment, for painting or begging. The training methods are merciless, and the large demand fuels it. Inform your friends and family, particularly if they are travelling to Thailand. We owe these lovely, soulful elephants, who desperately need somewhere to heal their hearts the one means they understand how – in safety with other elephants.

There are so many ways you possibly can help or volunteer, including in a single day stays, weekly stays, vet volunteer stays, bringing needed gadgets with you whenever you visit the park, and a lot extra.

Find out the various ways that you could help the Elephant Nature Park here and comply with them on Facebook right here.

Disclosure: I used to be not paid to put in writing this evaluate. I might have asked about it, but I didn’t need to. I’m very comfortable that our cash is going in the direction of the unbelievable work that Lek has been impressed to do here in Chiang Mai. Bless you, Lek. Thank you for making a distinction.