Getting Up Close & Personal…
The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, is a sanctuary for rescued and orphaned elephants.
It was set up in 1995 by a local Thai woman called Lec, who wanted to provide care & treatment for elephants injured through logging, elephants that were overworked, or elephants that were simply mistreated by their mahouts.
When we visited back in November 2010, the park housed 33 elephants, who could roam freely within the grounds. They were not controlled with metal spikes, but instead the elephants here are rewarded for good behaviour through positive reinforcement/ handling techniques.
It was an amazing experience to feed and wash these magnificent creatures which are the essence of Thailand.
This is a definite ‘must-do’ if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai!
We arrived and were shown the delights of the store cupboard… How much food can these guys eat?!!!!! They have a varied diet of banana, pumpkin and watermelon.
Feeding time already… elephants sleep only 1 to 4 hours a day – the rest of the time they are feeding or bathing.
An elephant’s skin is actually extremely rough and very hairy! The sheer strength of their trunk is astounding.
Next, off to the river, hi ho, ho ho, it’s off to the water we go…
Here goes… Hmmm I don’t think this elephant is too impressed with my technique! I was just waiting for her to get her own back and spray me with her trunk!
Playing in the mud – as all children do…
This baby elephant decided to get a closer look at us. Beware, some naughty elephants will try to steal your camera & whack you with their trunk!
On our visit we were lucky to meet Lec who has been nicknamed the ‘Elephant Whisperer’. What an amazing woman Lec is to save these elephants – it is definitely round the clock work.
One last stop to say goodbye to the elephant twins, where Lec was singing the baby girl a lullaby to help her get to sleep. She also rubbed a special ointment around her feet to help stop the mosquito bites. The elephant wanted Lec to sit under her, as Lec used to nurse her on her knee as a baby – but now at 14 months old she was just too big. The elephant kissed Lec as she soothed & talked to her.
It was a heart-warming sight, along with the sunset, to end what was an amazing day trip in northern Thailand.