Elephant Nature Park is located in a hilly valley of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. They own several acres of open land located next to a river surrounded with trees.
This was our first visit to anything Elephant related so I have nothing to compare it to. However, the vastness of the park, how well organized it is, and the exceeding numbers of visitors every day, makes me think it’s an awesome sanctuary for elephants.
Feeding the Elephants
Our day began with feeding a couple elephants some fruit. Everyone in our group was initially hesitant. The size of an elephant is intimidating, yet they are very peaceful, playful animals!
Elephant Nature Park rescues elephants that have been abused in a variety of situations. Most elephants come from logging companies in Myanmar. These elephants come with permanent damaged legs from stepping on landmines.
Others come from trekking companies being controlled by bull-hooks plunged into their bodies. Although elephants are huge, strong animals their bodies are not made to carry heavy weight on their backs.
Years ago elephants were even taken onto the streets to “beg for money”. Often getting hit by cars and trucks their legs would brake and the owners would no longer want them.
Elephant Nature Park has to buy each elephant for a hefty sum. Owners only sell their elephant when they are no longer able to fulfill their duties. This means the elephants are often very old. The oldest elephant at the park was 80 years old!
You can read more about the abuse of elephants in Thailand and most importantly why NOT to ride elephants here.
Walking around the Elephant Nature Park
We were provided with a vegetarian buffet lunch, there is no meat on the premises for the people or animals. After we ate we continued our tour with our guide.
Elephants are very unique animals. When they are brought to the park they meet all the elephants and then choose a family they get along with. The family also has to accept the elephant into their family. Some elephants like living alone and never choose a family.
This family consisted of an aunt or nanny, the mother, sister, and the baby is the younger brother. The park keeps the older male elephants in a separate fenced area because they are very aggressive. When it is mating season they will put some of the females in the fenced area with the males.
The elephants would peel off the bark with their trunks and then use it as a back-scratcher. It was amazing watching all the ways they would use their trunks.
The elephants loved playing in the mud! Some would even flick it onto their backs using their trunks. The baby elephant was so adorable but so timid!
The park is also home to many dogs that are free to roam. The dogs like being near the elephants. Although the baby elephant was bigger than the dogs he was terrified of them! He would run away whenever the dog would come near and the dog was completely clueless! After several times of the baby elephant running away the mom got angry. She tried to intimidate the dog by slamming her trunk on the ground making a hollow tube like sound and also making a deep growling sound. It was really entertaining.
Bathing the Elephants
Once we met all the elephants it was time to wash in the river. This was probably the highlight of the day. The elephants were happy to have more fruit to snack on and relax while getting cooled down in the river.
The Elephant Nature Park was such an incredible experience. No other experience can compare to being up close to these majestic, goofy animals. I found the activities we participated in to be far more rewarding than riding them through the jungle.
Elephants go through extreme abuse to be trained for people to take rides. Be mindful when you are planning an activity involving animals. If an animal is acting different than it would in the nature, then it probably isn’t humane. …
Tiger Temples. TERRIBLE. I’ll save that for another post.