My elephant day

04.15.11 | Comment?

While I was going to be at my yoga retreat in Koh Phangan (Thailand), Justin would be volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Well gosh darn it, I wanted to see the elephants too! So I decided to take a day trip, alone, to the Elephant Nature Park and get- if only briefly- up close to these beautiful and gentle giants.

From Justin’s description:

The park, founded in the early 1990s by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, is a sanctuary for domestic Asian elephants that have been rescued from logging and trekking operations, street begging, and performing. Many of the elephants have serious physical and mental handicaps, due to mistreatment, malnourishment, and/or the hardship of the labor they endured.

We got to feed the elephants (here I’m giving her a piece of watermelon). These things can eat! 200-300kg of food per day – yikes!

Trunks are such great tools… I want one.

Their skin is said to be an inch thick!

Tail and butt skin: thick but pliable.

Stomp… stomp…

The funnest part of the day was to bathe the elephants. It consisted of going in the river with buckets and splashing them with water.

When a whole group did it together, it made for an awesome elephant shower!

It was a deeply moving and humbling day. I realized how much we have no idea how badly animals are treated to generate money off of tourists (elephant rides). If you are visiting Thailand or any other country offering elephant-rides, show-casing elephants as circus animals, painters, etc… please verify that the company’s training techniques aren’t harmful. In doubt, don’t partake.

*Very gunky* Elephant kiss. Mmmwwwaaahhh!

You can read Justin’s week-long experience and how the park founder, Lek, sang an elephant to sleep here and more pictures here.

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