Visiting Elephants is pretty much on everyones to do list when you head to SE Asia. To be up close and personal to these beautiful creatures is one of the best feelings in the world. You hear all of these stories on how they were saved from poaching and now they live in harmony with their families. However not all sanctuaries provide the best possible care for these creatures and we believe that it’s important to help you find the best place to experience them in a safe and fun environment. We hope you enjoy our Elephant Sanctuaries – What You Should Know.
The elephant – The elephant is the largest land mammal on our planet
During their early years the calf follows the mother everywhere learning invaluable survival lessons from her and the rest of the herd. They will also have a special auntie, chosen by the mother as a pseudo-parent in case anything untoward should happen to her. A matriarch, chosen for her keen knowledge of the best feeding areas and skill in leading the herd is the undisputed ruler in the main group consisting of females of varying ages. Males are kept within this herd until they reach the ages of around 13. At that time they are send into exile with the other males and keep a distance of a few kilometres from the females returning only when it is time to repopulate the herd. – Elephant Nature Park.
We believe that these creatures belong in the wild however if they’re only safe option to keep them in these sanctuaries then we want to give our money to the best possible company who accompanies that. Some tips you should look out for if you want to find the best place to see them as wild as possible.
1. Don’t Go Where They Ride the Elephants.
Most sanctuaries claim to take care of the elephants when they arrive into their new home. However riding elephants requires weeks of torture and extreme pain to train the elephant to become obedient. Most places who allow riding, tame the elephants with a tool that’s sharp on the end to prod and stab the elephants with when they “misbehave” during rides. So make sure you avoid any places that allow riding, as much as they tell you it’s ok for the elephant, just know that they work tirelessly everyday just so you can sit on their back for 30 minutes and endure weeks of pain just for our pleasure.
2. Make Sure it’s a Legit Sanctuary First.
A lot of places claim that they are a safe place for the elephants however as tourism has developed over the years, the word “Sanctuary” has become more saturated and companies just use it as a marketing tool to attract more guests to their establishment. Make sure you read the reviews and do your research before visiting.
3. Avoid Anywhere That Involves Chains.
We heard of a “sanctuary” based in Ubud, when the elephants were not strolling around the park, they were chained to the ground. As elephants are born to roam free being the size that they are, this restricts so much natural movement for them whilst keeping them away from socialising with the others.
Elephants are social creatures just like you and me which means they require interaction on a daily basis. Chaining them up cause’s the elephants to feel distressed and fuels anxiety and depression!
4. Avoid Bathing Them.
I have personally witnessed many photos of people bathing with the elephants and washing them with muddy water. As part of their daily lives in the wild, elephants bathe in the mud to keep their skin cool during the mid day heat to keep mosquitos away and It also acts as an exfoliant for their tough skin. However bathing the elephants constantly doesn’t give the elephants any time to reap those benefits. In fact it actually causes them to shed more skin making them prone to sunburn and mosquitos bites. Our opinion is Just let the elephants wash themselves and admire them from the side.
5. Do Your Research.
Take some time to research places that really care about the elephants they look after. You can find lots of suggestions via google, National Geographic website and through word of mouth.
TIP: Flyers are a great source to find elephant sanctuaries however make sure you read their reviews before booking.
Our favourite place to visit elephants in Asia is at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
Book your accommodation in Chiang Mai Here.
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