August 12th was World Elephant Day, which is probably one of my favorite “random” holidays. The preservation and protection of the world’s elephants are extremely important, and it’s great that there’s a day dedicated to this area of animal welfare.
In 2017, it was a privilege and my honor to feed, bathe and (ethically) entertain the elephants provided and cared for by the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiangmai, Thailand. While traveling, it’s important to research which companies are truly sanctuaries as opposed to businesses that exploit and harm animals.
I hope to live in a world where all animals are treated with the respect and compassion they deserve ❤️
This weekend, I participated in something extremely spiritual and heartwarming. I visited an elephant sanctuary with my friends from the Mirror Foundation. Mind you, we didn’t ride the elephants, nor do we condone that behavior; however, we fed and bathed them!
Riding elephants, no matter how “well cared for” they are, is awful. It’s an exploitation of Thai culture, as well as a form of animal cruelty that I won’t even get into. The bottom line is this: always educate yourself on animal treatment, as well as cultural acceptances, when researching zoos and animal sanctuaries!!!
The experience was incredible. A songtaew picked us up from our hotel in Chiang Mai, where we met three Swedish girls. I recognized the Swedish instantly, and it turns out they lived in Kalmar, where I lived for five months! Small world!
When we arrived, we immediately changed into matching shirts to wear over our clothes. We had an educational lesson about elephant sanctuaries, which ones are proper, and how to feed/behave around the elephants.
Feeding them was beyond what I thought it could be. They didn’t even need the bananas to be peeled for them; the only one who did was the seven month-old male named Ronaldo! How cute!!! We held the bananas behind our backs and fed them one by one. I absolutely loved the experience, even if my hands became muddy from their thick tongues!
Throwing mud at the elephants seemed like an odd task, but we all had so much fun getting messy and the elephants were enjoying themselves! Bathing them off with buckets of water was probably my favorite part, because we could really get up close and personal with the elephants.
My words and photos don’t do the experience justice. Visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary if you’re ever in Chiang Mai!