Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand

I’ve been thinking of how to start writing about my journeys in Thailand and it’s taken me more time than I had anticipated. I’ve decided to just start with one of my favorite experiences. Just one. The Maerim Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

25 comments

I’ve been thinking of how to start writing about my journeys in Thailand and it’s taken me more time than I had anticipated. I’ve come to realize the reason: too many options. There are so many things I’d like to tell you. I could work chronologically; I could be general; I could talk about the locations, or the food, or the experiences. I’ve decided to just start with one of my favorite experiences. Just one. The Maerim Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

It’s important to know two things before you continue reading.

  1. Not all sanctuaries are actual sanctuaries. Many places continue to use elephants in unnatural ways for entertainment. Activities such as riding elephants is actually quite cruel and requires a cruel process to get the elephants to acquiesce. The one we went to, Maerim, is smaller than some others, but for much less money and a more intimate encounter (they only have 4 elephants, all rescued from the circus) it’s a top choice in my book.
  2. There will be some spoilers of the experience in this post. I’ve thought about this long and hard. My conclusion: It’s quixotic to think that most people will get to a place like this in their lives. I realize the great blessing it is that I had the means and opportunity to go. So I want to share this with those who may never go. I think everyone should be able to see the beautiful world we live in. And hopefully this post will inspire those of you who can make it to go! Go!

So these darling elephants, an adult female, a teenage boy, and two little sisters all live at this sanctuary on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. They are each given a human companion who stays with them for 20 hours a day; the men sleep only 4 hours. Imagine the love and dedication.

IMG_4362

IMG_8770

The elephants have their own “little” mud bath where they love to go and roll around. We got the pleasure of helping them to cover themselves in it. And we got more than enough on ourselves as well.

IMG_4126

A bunch of bananas under my arm and he was following me like a puppy… or a man. Whichever you prefer, food is the main thing, really. We were going down to the river to rinse off, man and woman and elephant alike.

IMG_4291
Sharing his knowledge.

As you can imagine, the waters of the river got pretty muddy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next we brought the darlings to a huge field of banana trees, were given machetes and license to start cutting. They love to eat every part of the tree, as made obvious by their poop, which resembles matted hay covered in dirt. Imagine my horror when the two dogs that run the place started eating the fresh poo like it was any old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. How could they? Elephants are vegetarian and eat a very healthy diet. That ain’t enough just cause for me, but the dogs seemed pleased to get their daily fiber. Besides, they looked healthy and happy enough. Nature: the gift that keeps on giving.

IMG_3780IMG_8462IMG_3947IMG_8345

All of the photos shown here were taken by volunteer photographers at the sanctuary. While I did take many photos of my own, these candid and varied shots are so beautiful and only cost a few hundred Baht. And the money supports the sanctuary. So much better than paying a fortune for one stupid automatic camera shot at Disney. This is care and quality and a work of love.

I’ve always loved elephants. I was looking forward to this experience more than most of the others, and it didn’t disappoint. I was, and am, incredibly happy. I’ve grown in love for these creatures who are at once big and rough yet incredibly gentle and soft-hearted and playful.

May they always be protected.

 

25 comments on “Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand”

  1. This sanctuary looks amazing! It’s good you did research before visiting one, as you’re right, some are scams. The volunteers at this sanctuary sound like they do an incredible job, and offer a really remarkable experience. Good on you for supporting them! Those elephants are so muddy and happy! 😀 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They like getting rubs behind the ears, so I did a lot of that! Also, I didn’t mention in the post that anyone can sign up to volunteer there for 4 weeks. You tell them your skill/preference and they will try and find a place for you. So incredible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww because baby elephants with those little electric-shock kinda tufts of hair on their head are precious. You look so happy. It must feel so wonderful to be spending time with these babies. Dogs eating poo? Sheesh. I think I shall look the other way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Perfect description of their hair. It really added to the adorable factor. I only watched the poop eating long enough to confirm it wasn’t some wicked trick of my imagination. I still shiver to think of it lol

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post. It shows what a special person you are. Elephants have been and continue to be mistreated, as people just don’t understand how smart and affectionate they are. You make a difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I hope that everyone can do their part to help the world see what beautifully social and loving they are. All animals deserve love, of course, but especially those who are being exploited. They have a very special place in my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post and I can’t even imagine how awesome it must have been to actually see all that. The Elephants look so happy and it’s so good to know that there are still out there who actually care about animals that much!
    The pictures are honestly beautiful, I wish I could just jump into them and visit that place myself.
    See you, Saskia xxx

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s