Elephant Nature Park is located roughly an hour north of Chiang Mai, in the direction of Chiang Rai. In this remote area of Thailand, elephants that have seen incredible amounts of abuse through Thailand’s tourism and logging industries live their remaining days in peace and quiet. Some have been blinded intentionally by previous owners and some have permanently deformed limbs due to being forced to haul thousands of pounds of cut trees on injured legs.
What is evident here is that the spirit of these animals is strong. The resilience seen in all of them, some that have witnessed horrible atrocities committed on themselves, members of their communities and their own offspring – is core shaking.
I spent the day with these elephants, which can be visited by those interested in supporting the park and their efforts. Throughout the year, ticket sales are used to purchase abused elephants from existing owners in an effort to save them from horrors that are not stopped by the government. It costs nearly $25,000 to save one elephant – so each ticket, piece of merchandise or donation is needed.
Seeing the fruits of the work to save these creatures is humbling.
And, anyone who has ever thought that a simple “elephant ride” at a zoo, center or camp – in countries throughout the world – will be convinced otherwise when you hear the harrowing tales of what happens behind the scenes to get these strong-willed creatures to cooperate. Don’t miss a visit to Elephant Nature Park, you will leave completely changed.