If you’re an animal lover and want to experience these incredible giants in the wild at an ethical establishment, this article is here to point you in the right direction. For many good reasons, seeing elephants up close and personal is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Land of Smiles. These animals are a significant part of Thai culture, so any trip to Thailand is not complete without spending some time with them. However, you need to be aware that not all elephant sanctuaries are run ethically, and you have to be careful when making your selection. You don’t want to support an establishment that mistreats or abuses elephants in any way. For decades these fantastic animals have suffered at the hands of cruel humans, who have used them for logging, farming and entertainment. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure you only visit an ethical sanctuary. Fortunately, we are here to guide you with our list of the very best elephant nature park in Thailand worth visiting across the country.
The Surin Project (Isaan)
The Surin Project is unique in that it serves as a sanctuary for both elephants and their handlers. Why? Because the trainers are often treated as poorly as the animals. Here, roughly 200 trainers and their wards live in the sanctuary. The elephants are rehabilitated while the trainers are given new employment. At this project, there are no ‘visitors’; you can only step inside as a volunteer, anywhere from one week to eight weeks. Through this scheme, you’ll work alongside project leaders, get to know the local village community and support the elephants and trainers.
Elephant Nature Park (Chiang Mai)
This park is perhaps the most well-known elephant conservation project in Thailand. Established in 1995 by award-winning conservationist Lek Chailert, it sits on the edge of a lush rainforest on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Here, more than 75 elephants, each with their own heart-breaking story, get to roam free. In addition to the elephant, the park is also a refuge for an assortment of cats, dogs, horses, buffalo and warthogs. Here you can venture inside as a visitor, either for a day or overnight; helping to feed and bathe the animals. They do offer long-stay volunteer posts too.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (Phuket)
EJS was the first-ever operational elephant sanctuary to set up camp in Phuket. Like their counterparts, they offer half-day, full-day and overnight tours of their facility, wherein guests get the unique opportunity to interact with these magnificent elephants in a safe and secure natural environment. Trained English-speaking guides will share how the welfare operation runs, the personal history of each animal and the mahouts (trainers) will guide you in preparing their food, bathing them and playing with them. The difference with this sanctuary is that you get both stunning jungle and beach views.
We hope this article has answered any questions you had about elephant sanctuaries in the Land of Smiles, and now you’re ready to visit an ethical elephant nature park in Thailand.
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