Elephants can kiss.
Trip Start Jul 24, 2009
17Trip End Jun 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Elephant Nature Park
Previous to my visit I had ridden on an elephant in Thailand and knew that this had developed as result of logging being banned in 1986 and the elephants finding a new purpose. What I didn't realise was the way in which traditionally the Thai people 'broke in' their elephants. We watched a video where at the end part of this process was shown. I'm not one for telling others what they should believe of think about something but from my point of view it was bloody cruel. In a country where they barely have human rights, animal rights are just unheard of. Google it for yourself and make your own mind up. I just know that if I thought my horse had been through that just so I could ride her I'd be heart broken (I'm sure she wasn't as she is far too sure of herself and her own self importance!)
During my stay I was able to feed them both at the feeding platform and also with the older girls who, due to lack of teeth, take longer to eat so are fed away from the main group so their food isn't stolen. I found out that their favorite foods in order of preference are bananas, watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and banana stalk. I was feeding Mae Tae who has no teeth and whenever I gave her the banana stalks she through them away with her trunk in hope of better stuff! The elephants got taken down to the river everyday and we are given buckets to wash them. Such an amazing feeling to be nearly shoulder deep in the river washing a huge elephant, had to watch out for the poop!
As i was staying over night in the morning I helped out so I was sent to help muck out the pens. I will never moan about mucking India out ever again! Their poo is blooming heavy and so much of it!. After that I was able to go on a walk into the fields to be with the elephants
Those elephants have mostly been at the park which is why they are so full of life, they haven't been begging on Bangkok streets or been fed speed to make them work harder
The mahouts get paid different wages depending on how difficult your elephant is. Hope's mahouts get the most as they are always on the go. I was glad to hear this because if you look after the 82yr old life is very chilled and you can relax. Saying that, it is the 82yr old elephant who has taught one of the younger bulls to fight! So, just like humans, old ladies can't be trusted!
Anyway, I could go on for ages about this experiences as it was one of the best things I have ever done. I think the pictures say it better than I ever could.