Elephant Nature Park = A Legit Sanctuary
"I can’t even describe how big it was. It had so many rescued animals; water buffalos, cows, horses, 700+ dogs, hundreds of cats, and 80+ elephants."
Recently we travelled to Chiang Mai to spend a night at Elephant Nature Park. And it was such a great experience. We were picked up by the company’s bus and taken to the park. Whilst we were in the bus we watched the guidelines of the park and what goes on in the cruel elephant trading industry, all over the world. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Nothing is safe for them; riding elephants, painting elephants, circus elephants, touring elephants. They all involve the same aspects of cruelty. The one thing they all had in common with the training was called “BREAKING OF SPIRIT”. Which involves tying the elephant up, restricting their whole body for days. And then when they are learning commands, they are forced to walk circles over and over and over again for 7 days! They lose their spirit and minds in the process. They are hurt with nails in their ears if they don’t behave and obviously the usual things, such as; hooks, whips, starvation, abuse, etc. This process for each elephant can take up to three months. This happens to EVERY elephant that is used for human entertainment! I broke down in the van ride, amongst many others. But there was a good feeling with it. The elephants we were going to see were rescued from that life. We were paying our money to the right kind of company and the relieving feeling that these elephants on this land, don’t have to endure that anymore. We got to the park and it was this huge land! Like I can’t even describe how big it was. It had so many rescued animals; water buffalos, cows, horses, 700+ dogs, hundreds of cats, and 80+ elephants.
We were in this cabin area, getting some lunch. They only serve vegan food, sorry folks but that’s what you get when you’re surrounded by the hugest animal lovers out! They were more animal crazy than me! But you had so much to choose from! 4 types of noodle dishes, 6 curries, 3 stir fried vegetables, 3 types of rice, spring rolls, salads, “pork” crackling, potatoes, fruit, etc. You would never go hungry and the food was exceptional! Then within the first hour we got to feed a family of elephants! In a way I like to see it; us humans behind the barrier and the elephants roaming freely up to us to feed them. So adorable, with seeing how they even have different preferences when it came to what foods. For example; one elephant only wanted the pumpkin and another only wanted bananas. We then went for a tour along the land and watched the elephants bathe themselves in the river near by. We spent ages just watching them be, play in the leaves, etc. They each have a trainer/friend. They aren’t really a trainer more like a human friend that hangs around them and feeds them. It’s a process they go through with each elephant picking their own human companion. If the elephant doesn’t like you, then you don’t get the job. Many elephants need companions because they are still shaken from the torture and hardship they went through. Some can’t bond with other elephants due to not trusting them or not knowing how. So having a human companion they trust, slowly builds their confidence back so they can get back to living happily. It’s heartbreaking to see the ones that are still broken and still mentally scarred. They’ve had luck with elephants in the past, very slowly they get better. Which is why ENP is so great, rescuing them so they can back to their normal instincts and be happy again!
Taking a tour throughout the land, ENP (Elephant Nature Park) has literally thought of everything with keeping the park sustainable! When they first opened they noticed the river was flowing with pesticides from the farmers over the mountains, when growing fruit and vegetables. So they went and spoke to the farmers and said if they stop using pesticides, they would buy all the fruit and vegetables from them, no matter what they looked like! Ugly fruit and veg = no one buying them. They also supply the farmers with elephant manure for growing. Then no more pesticides in the river! There’s even extreme burning happening in Chiang Mai. They burn the land for mushrooms that pop up after burning the mountain land. And it makes them A LOT of money this mushroom. So what also makes them a lot of money? Coffee! So ENP started planting coffee all over the mountains, so the locals could still make money but, not have to burn the land. Which is so much better for the air! They also buy red dirt/clay that the elephants can throw on their backs to protect them from the sun. The red dirt sticks to them better rather than just normal dirt. Majority of the elephants need this, as have had their skin wounded and worn away, from the 150kgs saddles they had to wear, that their bodies and skin couldn’t handle from human riding. ENP also employ locals on site to support the area. They have masseuses, dancers, cooks, and baristas on site that you can pay for their services. When I say they have thought of everything! They have! That’s just a small amount of things I noticed and loved! So the woman that created ENP is a crazy animal lover! She loves them all! So what you don’t realise before you get to the park is the other amounts of animals you get there. In 2011, they had serious floods over Thailand. ENP went through the floods rescuing and returning pets back to their owners. A lot of families couldn’t afford to take back their dogs and cats after they were rescued. So naturally, ENP took them in. They now have over 700 dogs and hundreds of cats on their land. Which they try and adopt out but also let them live freely over the land. It’s heaven! I’m not a huge cat lover but, these are the friendliest cats you will ever meet! And in the dog shelter you can go and help walk the dogs everyday. They also have good ties with the VET clinics, that all the medicine needed for the animals, they buy at a cheaper price because it only has three months left of expiry. You receive a lot of animal love whilst you are there. You stay overnight and get a cabin to stay in and you can hear the elephants overnight. We were fed huge meals every time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the next day you get to feed elephants up close and personal. You get multiple feedings of the elephants and bonding with the ones you had fed the day before. Which is an experience! You also get to make soft food for the older elephants that don’t have many teeth left and can’t handles the hard fruits, etc.
So if you love elephants or even if you don’t, you just want the experience of meeting one. You need to go to ENP rather than supporting the cruelness of other industries. Do the right thing by supporting companies that are doing good in our world. Don’t put your money towards torture and violence. All to ride an elephant? Just because they are large does not mean that they aren’t sensitive and can support our weight on their backs. Many of the rescued elephants we saw, had spinal issues, broken legs, etc due to the riding. Things may look all happy on the surface, but what they endure behind closed doors is all the same. They all go through the same breaking of spirit. Sometimes they don’t even use a hook, they use a small nail in their ears that you can’t see, to make them behave. Animals give us so much love and joy. Let’s do right by them by giving them a happy life. The less demand for riding elephants, doing tricks, painting, circuses… the more REAL sanctuaries like this will pop up! Let’s show the world that we won’t pay for animal cruelty! We want them living their best lives and having a choice! So spread the word and become aware! Do not pay for animal entertainment anymore! Thanks guys for taking the time to read up on this important issue! You’re already taking a huge step to becoming aware and bettering the world!
Much love! Jessica XX.
If you would also like to see the documentary on ENP and the amazing rescues they do. The documentary is called “Love & Bananas”.
Also my Youtube video on my experience at ENP! : ENP experience: Click Here.