22 Jun First time visiting an elephant sanctuary
Part of our trip in Thailand was visiting the city Chiang Mai, located in the northern part of the country. Chiang Mai was the second place we visited after Bangkok. There, is where we had the chance to visit an elephant sanctuary! It was without any doubt one of the most interesting and beautiful experiences we had lived during our travelling adventures. And for sure, there are a lot to discuss when it comes to this experience! And as you know, we are ready to share every single thing with you, from our very own concerns, to useful tips for you to enjoy such an experience like us.
Land of white elephants!
How we decided to visit this place
Thailand is well known as the country of the (white) elephants. While you expect to see white elephants, in reality what you will see is normal elephants, but they call them white due to the pureness of the animal, as white color symbolizes purity. And of course we, as lovers of elephants, desired to have the chance to get to see these astonishing animals closer. After we did our research, we decided to go through travelhubchiangmai in order to experience this adventure, which is a site that organizes various interesting activities in the city of Chiang Mai. We cannot hide the fact that we had some concerns regarding the first time visiting this elephant sanctuary.
Our main concerns
It is true that elephants are considered to be a pure animal and sacred to some extent, that does not exclude that the fact that they have gone through massive exploitation from the tourist industry throughout the years. What makes quite obvious the importance of this species, is, that today there are only a few thousands of wild-free elephants in Thailand. Many of the elephants are in captivity, vast population of which is used exclusively for tourist attraction and such purposes. Which automatically makes this kind of tourism not in alliance with ethics if we think about it. For a wild animal like the elephants, to accept a human sitting at his back and remain calm throughout the ride, or perform special tricks, it is an indication that this animal might have gone under some kind of torture. Inevitably, in a past visit of ours in Thailand a few years back, driven from the excitement and the naivety of our youth nature, we also became part of this tourism. For this is why, on this comeback that we decided to do in this country, we couldn’t allow this to be repeated. So, our main concern was, what exactly would we come across during our visit in the elephant sanctuary.
The elephant sanctuaries
When we first booked this visit we read, that this place is about a shelter, where riding an elephant is not allowed and that what you will be able to experience is coming closer to these elephants that have found a shelter there and are under the protection of this sanctuary. This is not the case, anyway that you will meet wild elephants, but mostly, you will actually see animals that were born «in captivity». Then you might again question yourself whether this is another case of exploitation for the same purposes. Well, yes, but the main purpose behind this is taking care of these animals on the one hand, and on the other hand to bring people closer to this wonderful creatures. The amount of money that you pay, are used to ensure the maintenance of decent and appropriate environment for the well being of the elephants. Additionally, when you visit for the first time an elephant shelter you will be able to tell the difference immediately. You get to learn all the important information concerning the life of the elephants, and most important, that they only do as they wish and not as you wish they did. You don’t have any kind of power or control on them. When we finally met them and saw with our own eyes what was he case, any kind of concern that we had, disappeared and we really enjoyed this amazing and special contact!
Shower, Feeding and Mud bathing!
Activities included during your first time visiting an elephant sanctuary are shower, feeding and mud bathing. First of all, you will be able to feed the elephants their favorite food, bananas of course! This is the part where you have your first contact with them. Then they are taken to the river. You can get in as well and help while they get themselves wet with their trunks. In our case, they just stayed in the river approximately 10 minutes, and immediately went out , altogether to find a shady place. Elephants’ skin is extremely sun sensitive and that is the reason why they love water, for cleaning and cooling purposes. Our last station was the Mud Baths! This is the part that they roll in mud in order to protect themselves from sun. We were lucky enough to see the one month old elephant enjoying in absolute bliss his mud bath!
Some information to keep about elephants
The Asian elephants that you will meet in Thailand and in other Asian countries as well as smaller than the African elephants. What we mean when we say smaller is that can weigh up to 4 tons of course! A big elephant needs approximately 300 kilos of food per day. What is also very interesting about elephants is that they experience intense feelings of happiness, compassion even anger. What matters the most for them, is their family. This can be easily understood if you observe how over protective they are with the younger elephants. As it was mentioned in the beginning, having the chance to visit an elephant sanctuary is a wonderful experience you should not miss the chance to have. So if you ask us if it is worth it? There is no question about it!