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Updated by Joanna James on Dec 13, 2018
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Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Ethical Elephant Experiences in Thailand – Responsible Encounters

Elephant abuse is well known in Thailand; however, we have discovered a number of elephant experiences that stay well away from unethical practices allowing gentle interactions with the mammals.

1

Pay a Visit to the Elephant Nature Park

Located in the beautiful hills of Chiang Mai this is the country's most popular elephant conservation project. Founded in 1995 the park is home to about 35 elephants freed from abusive situations such as logging or exploitation for tourism; the free roaming animals are offered a scenic sanctuary in North Thailand. You can opt for an overnight stay or single visits to the park. On a day's visit to the park, you can stop at the river and enjoy a fun bathing experience with the mammals and later help out with the feeding process. Overnight stays offer more comprehensive experiences and interactions with the animals while longer volunteer spells at the camp are available on request.

2

Become a Volunteer at the Surin Project

The Surin Project focuses on lending both elephants and mahouts a helping hand. Located in Baan Tha Klang around the north-eastern province of the country this project aims to minimise poverty amongst mahouts; who would otherwise utilise the elephants for unethical tourism purpose in order to earn a living. At Surin, there are around 200 mahouts enjoying permanent accommodation and employment. The elephants are freed from their shackles and allowed to roam free. Surin is constantly on the lookout for volunteers to lend a helping hand as the entire project runs on this system; plus it is an immense eye opener for volunteers to learn about ancient cultures and traditions practised by mahouts.

3

Book Accommodation at a Humane Elephant Camp

If you are an elephant fan on the lookout for a Lanna hotel consider one located in the hills of Chiang Mai; ancient habitat for Thai elephants. These fabulous abodes offer one a chance to enjoy typical Thai hospitality amongst the stunning environs of the country's northern hills while interacting with the elephant population there. Some resorts like Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort features an in-house elephant sanctuary where guests can learn the skills of a mahout and interact with the gentle animals on a one on one basis. Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary is another very small reserve offering limited overnight accommodation where visitors can walk elephants to the river, help with feeding and lend a hand to mahouts.

4

Check Out Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital

This is the world's only elephant hospital. Dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured elephants the centre located in the north-west province of Thailand offers an insight to treating sick and maimed animals. Stepping in to protect the injured pachyderms that would otherwise be left to die, Friends of the Asian Elephant offers an invaluable service to the preservation of these gentle giants.

5

Discover Elephant Haven

Elephant Haven is a milestone in the fight against elephant preservation in Thailand. The camp which once kept elephants chained up and on the show is wholly reformed. The animals now roam free no longer objects of entertainment. Day visits or overnight stays allow guests too, to roam free and observe the daily habits of the wandering elephants.

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