Elephant Nature Park
We were recently privileged enough to visit the Elephant Nature Park rescue and rehabilitation center nestled 60 kilometers away from Chiang Mai City, (the only reputable sanctuary in the North of Thailand).
Typically tourists in Thailand interact with elephants by riding them and/or watching them perform in a certain way; however, the Elephant Nature Park provides an alternative way to visit the beautiful creatures in a natural and more humane environment, NOT working for your Baht.
Visionary founder, “Lek” grew up in Northern Thailand, learning from her Grandfather the correct way to care for elephants. After seeing how badly these animals are abused and tortured by Thai people in order to earn money from holiday makers, she decided to open this sanctuary to rescue the elephants and provide them with all the love and care they deserve.
With specific emphasis on rescue and conservation as opposed to training, riding and performances, the park allows visitor to feed, bathe and learn the personal history and (often) tragic stories behind each individual elephant.
A majority of them were blind after having arrows shoved in their eyes, scars over their bodies from axe wounds, and left severely deformed all because they have been subjected the the cruel tourism industry.
Housing over 37 gorgeous elephants, the park also rescues dogs, cats, water buffalo, pigs and horses.
It was upsetting to hear how the Thai government have no regulations on how these animals are treated and that constant abuse, pain and suffering is accepted as a main way of taming.
The visit was an eye opening and educational experience that had a life changing impact on me. Armed with the knowledge of what these poor creatures are forced to do, i’ll never support tourism that involves elephant mistreatment in any shape or form.
Words and pictures by: Kelsey Purnell