Elephant Sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Elephants are one of the most unique animals in the world. Their behavior is considered very intelligent. They feel grief, compassion, self-awareness and know how to play. Some even say they react to art and music. Their average lifespan is from 50 to 70 years.

Thailand, Asia, Southeast Asia, Travel, Traveling

There are three distinct species in the world; African Savannah elephant, the African Forest elephant and the Asian elephant. The biggest one is the African elephant. They have larger ears, which are shaped like the continent of Africa! Males can be up to 3m tall.

Asian elephants’ ears are smaller and shaped like India. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks, but only male Asian elephants grow them. A tusk-less adult elephant is likely to be a female Asian elephant.

Making Money Out of Poo

Since they eat 12 hours per day, the create a lot of poo. A company close to Chiang Mai has found a business opportunity in that. “The Elephant PooPoo Paper” turns elephant and some other animal poo into paper. They cook it to make sure that all bacteria dies. Since they eat a lot of grass and fruits, their poo contains a lot of fabric. They clean the poo away so that only undigested fabrics remain for the paper. This means no trees are cut, and no animal species are endangered. They are chemical-free, chlorine-free and completely eco-friendly.  You can read more about the company on  https://www.poopoopaper.com/en/.

Never Ride An Elephant

Thailand is known for elephants, they are crucial for their income and economy in tourism. In fact, it also the national animal of the country. It has been present in Thai culture for centuries. Since Thailand is a Buddhist country, elephants are also considered sacred animals. Thai elephants are actually Indian elephants, which is a subspecies of Asian elephant.

It was my fifth day in Thailand and I have just moved to another city called Ayutthaya. On a beautiful day, out of nowhere, I saw dozens of elephants walking on the road towards me. I was screaming ” ELEPHAAAANTS.” But what I saw a moment later was disturbing. They were walking slowly like zombies, with sadness in their eyes and no will for life at all. They had big, red chairs on their backs, where people could sit and enjoy the ride.

I felt like I was two centuries back in time when rich colonists did that. All you could see was mobile phones and selfie sticks in their hands, proudly showing off on their social media that they are riding an elephant. I felt horrible. I couldn’t understand how they don’t understand what they do and how it looks like. Moreover, all of the elephants had their “base” in a circus, where they did tricks to entertain tourists, such as standing on back and front legs.

Elephant Sanctuaries

There are many of them in northern Thailand. Their mission is to protect and care for mistreated elephants rescued from the tourism and logging industries. Their goal is also to promote elephant-friendly tourism since Asian elephants are an endangered species.

Elephants in sanctuaries are like little pets. They are used to human company and are therefore very gentle. Of course, the one and only thing you need is food for them. What they like the most are sugar cane sticks and bananas.

Elephant riding causes a lot of stress to an elephant. They can die because of suffering and exhaustion from overwork. If you love elephants, don’t ride them. Rather pet them, feed them and give them mud baths – they love it.

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