Elephant Nature Park is mainly a sanctuary for elephants but they also have dogs, cats, buffaloes and many other animals they have rescued. We were told during our visit that they have around 70 elephants and that their oldest elephant at the sanctuary is 100 years old. Additionally, they make sure to educate their visitors about the plight of elephants in Thailand.
You’ve probably heard about elephants being treated poorly in Thailand. I did and that’s why I did my research to find a sanctuary to support rather than a camp where elephants are trained, tortured and generally mistreated.
Our tour guide, Mike, was very passionate and knowledgeable about elephants. He showed us an elephant that had no hair on her back due to the saddle on which tourists rode her before she was rescued. He also showed us an elephant that had a misshaped head due to being beaten with hooks during training by its previous owners. Another elephant had a deformed foot from stepping on a land mine before its rescue. While these things were absolutely difficult to see, it was comforting and completely reassuring seeing the proper love and care they are now given at ENP.
Here is a few more details about this from ENP’s website:
“They are forced to walk on hot tarmac roads by gangs of elephant owners and beg for fruit and food. The owner often buys the elephant purely to obtain begging money from sympathetic passers by. As he has scant experience with animal training, the hapless creature is cruelly treated and beaten as the rider becomes impatient. In the city the animal cannot possibly get the 200-300 kg of food and 100-200 litres of water necessary for it’s daily nourishment so it plods the hot polluted streets, thirsty hungry and confused. These animals quickly suffer from stress through polluted air, poor diet, dehydration, loneliness and their sensitive ears are soon damaged. Much of the fruit purchased from local sellers has been treated with chemicals and causes serious stomach problems and eventually death.
Other forms of, less apparent abuse come in the form of pet baby elephants featured at hotels and entertainment complexes. Although the animals may seem happy enough they are invariably fed the wrong diet, suffer from loneliness and boredom and will soon die. Many unwitting tourists, delighted at the sight of a “cute” baby elephant, are completely unaware that the lifespan of the creature is likely to be only a few years.”
I love that at ENP, the caretakers are extremely compassionate and attentive to the needs of the elephants and that the elephants get to relax and roam freely all day.
On our visit, we got to help feed the elephants one of their many daily meals. We fed them watermelon, cucumbers and other fruit.
We also helped them cool off in a river at the sanctuary by splashing them with buckets of water.
This was definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life!