Type of Animals Involved
Elephants, also cats, dogs, water buffalo and any other species that need a home!
Extent of Contact
At Elephant Nature Park you can observe elephants just being elephants. This is a truly respectful environment that provides a haven for elephants that have been abused in the logging or tourism trade, and they are allowed space to heal. You can see the elephants at close range as you go about your volunteer tasks of cleaning the park, and you can sometimes feed them after kitchen duties, but riding, bathing, painting and all unnatural activities are forbidden here and the elephants lead a natural life.
Some of the elephants are shyer than others due to a previous lifetime of abuse, but this is a lovely, happy, warm and nurturing environment where they can live in family herds, play, browse, enjoy mud baths and swimming
Instruments of Control or Restraint
There are no instruments of control or restraint – the mahouts treat the elephants with respect. As the founder Lek Chailert has said in her film – you can control an elephant with love … and bananas!
This is the best place I have ever visited. Everything about it is geared towards the happiness of the elephants, but the tourists can also see and help out with the many dogs rescued after a flood (including walking disabled dogs in half-wheelchairs), visit the cats of Cat Kingdom or just chill out on the platform with a beer and a book while watching the elephants. Accommodation is basic but comfortable, and the food is out of this world – huge vegan buffets every day which were amazing – the best food I tasted in Thailand by far. Visitors are shown educational videos about the issues facing elephants in Thailand, and given safety talks. There are tours of the park with Darrick, who tells you about the elephants and their stories. The volunteer tasks are fun and you meet interesting people. I took my teenage daughter and she loved it too. One word of caution – if you visit Elephant Nature Park be prepared for it to steal your heart – I am already saving to return. The Save Elephant Foundation also has other projects across Thailand (including the newer Samui Elephant Sanctuary on Koh Samui) run to the same high standard which I hope to visit. Quite simply, if you like elephants and want to see them living a natural, happy elephant life, this is the place to go.