I apologize in advance for the ridiculous amount of pictures in this post from Baan Chang Elephant Park. But who doesn’t love adorable little elephants?
When planning our trip to Thailand, there was one thing that was consistently on the top of my list of activities I wanted to do. See elephants. How could we resist when we were in one of the few countries in the world that they are native to? It wasn’t so much a question as to if we would do it, but where we would do it. There are elephant camps and parks in every brochure stand around Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. I had researched several and admit that I was more than a little picky about where we went. I know everyone has different personal opinions but for me personally, I just couldn’t bear the thought of going and seeing elephants in ‘shows’, seeing them paint, watching them play soccer or riding them with large harnesses on their backs. I wanted to experience them more naturally and give my money to a place that cared for the elephants and helped rescue them from harsh environments.
|The one baby on the property loved to give kisses.|
After much research and a high recommendation from friends, we chose to sign up with Baan Chang Elephant Park, translated as Elephant Home. They are an organization that rescues elephants from abusive industries such as elephant begging and the logging industry (the logging industry is prevalent in the northern part of Thailand and abuses the fact that elephants only need about four hours of sleep a night. They will make them work hard labor for the other 20 hours of the day). Their goal is to teach others about the importance of elephant conservation through proper eating, sleeping, bathing and exercising methods and also to preserve a natural habitat for these rescued and abused animals.
We arrived to Baan Chang Elephant Park at an excruciatingly early hour of 6am. We were told that with most animal visits, to go early in the morning when they were first waking up and had not been around people all day yet. After driving for about an hour through the country side, we rounded the corner into the property and were immediately greeted with the site of about a dozen elephants.
Our first order of business was feeding the elephants. We were provided a large bucket filled to the brim with bananas and large sticks of sugar cane. We walked through the clusters of elephants with their trunks grabbing at us along the way, eager to get their treats.
You may be wondering about the chain around their feet; that was my first thought too. Every elephant sanctuary has to chain up their elephants for people’s protection and their own. This particular company takes in any abused elephant that they find. Meaning, some are very aggressive from being abused and living in extreme conditions. They need time to become docile once again, and for the company to work with them in hopes of a full recovery before people can be near them. This is also to protect the elephants. If they go unchained, they can leave the sanctuary which raises the risk of someone taking them back into harsh conditions or worse, the elephants can plumage local gardens and farms. If this happens, the farmers will often shoot the elephants.
|Feeding him some sugar cane|
|The back is not as comfortable as it looks! I was sore for days after this!|
If you’re ever in Thailand, I would highly recommend spending a day with the elephants at one of the many Elephant Sanctuaries.
Some other great places to spend time are Patara Elephant Farm and the Elephant Nature Park. When we go back to Thailand (because let’s face it, we will go back) we want to check out the Elephant Nature Park which is more intensive on their care and conservation of the animals.