I’m not going to lie.. I really wanted to ride an elephant.. I mean who doesn’t?
But there’s something that just didn’t feel right about it. I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and animals rights have always been my priority. I love animals more than people.. I know you’re not supposed to say that but animals are amazing and they should be treated with love and care.
Arriving in Chiang Mai, people everywhere were talking about the elephant riding and tiger sanctuaries and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea. I mean you ride camels and horses right, so why not an elephant? My friends who’ve been to Thailand had rode elephants at some of the places and said the elephants seemed truly happy and were well taken care of; especially the ones who don’t encourage “Elephant Shows” and kept strictly to riding and feeding the elephants.
I know my boyfriend wanted to, elephants are his favourite animals so of course he wanted to spend time with them. So I was conflicted with the “Do I?” and “Don’t I“’ and “Is it ethical?” I think I new the answer but I was still playing around with the idea, surely there was SOMEWHERE that treated the animals fairly. After lots of Google and soul searching I told Aaron that we weren’t going to ride elephant in Thailand. I couldn’t bring myself to book a tour and ride an elephant. I think part of me knew I would feel too guilty and it’s not right. You can’t condone an animals mistreatment for you 20 minutes of amusement.
Aaron was disappointed at first but when I explained the situation he understood. Most people don’t know the cruelty that comes with animal shows. It’s up to us to educate those who don’t know, which is what I hope do to for you in this post. So all of this researching lead me to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary:
The Sanctuary is run by a village of about 50 people in northern Chiang Mai, about an hour and a half drive from the Chiang Mai centre. They have five rescued elephants, including a baby and a pregnant momma!
The sanctuary was an amazing place. Instead of riding the elephants and having them prance around you for your own amusement you actually get to chill out with the elephants.
At the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary you learn about the elephants, feed them bananas and sugar cane, wrestle with the rambunctious baby and even swing from jungle vines if you find them! Aaron and I were so happy to see the rescued elephants roaming free, with no pressure to entertain.
After hanging out this these amazing creatures you have lunch. Lunch is a home cooked meal that is provided for you from the village. They even catered to the six vegetarians (myself included!) making 80% of their dishes meat free. You could say I was a happy girl 🙂 There was a few puppies playing in the village and one came to hang out with me. After lunch you had a mud bath with the gentle giants and have mud fights with your fellow travellers. Yes you have a MUD BATH WITH GIANTS. It was so much fun, I can’t believe I bathed with elephants.
Then you head down to the chilly waterfalls and wash the mud off the elephants before you head under the small waterfalls. There you wash yourself off and pose for some cameras. It was an amazing experience to be in the jungle, covered head to toe in mud and bathing with elephants.
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary was an amazing choice. It was a long happy day where you get to hang out and have fun with the elephants and truly get to appreciate them as the majestic creatures they are ,without feeling the need to ride them. It was the right choice for me, and should be for you. Even though the idea of riding them still seems amazing I know I made the right choice in picking this amazing tribe in the mountains and their rescued elephants.
You have to pay to see the elephants but if you’re wondering where your money goes just remember – elephants are expensive. So while you don’t get to ride elephants for your money you do get to play, bathe and hang out with them, all the while having a clear conscience knowing your money is going towards rescuing new elephants. Awesome right?
To find out more check out their website here:
“From now on they will no longer be ordered to stand on two front legs on a small box or sways its head side to side all the time like it’s dancing to entertain tourists. We will only invite tourists to visit them as their colleagues in the world and will not think any exploit from them… Human will need to protect and preserve of their species to coexist in the world.”
-The Jungle Sanctuary
And if you want more information check out my Thailand post here !
What are your thoughts on the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary? Who else loves elephants! Comment below to share your thought!
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