L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

« Previous Post | L.A. Unleashed Home | Next Post »

Meeting elephants for peanuts: One travel writer's (inexpensive) experiences in Thailand

Thailand's 1989 ban on commercial logging sent thousands of elephants to training camps that sprang up around the country -- some ethical, some not so ethical. Travel writer Christopher Smith recently visited and profiled the Elephant Conservation Center camp in Lampang Province. (He describes the trip as "the best $2.55 I've ever spent on vacation.") Here's an excerpt:

Elephant painter For less than the cost of a Double Whopper, I spent a day in the company of 55 whoppers -- domesticated Asian elephants being rehabbed after lives of labor. No chains, no enclosures, often no distance at all from behemoths within touching range.

For an animal lover like me, it was a pachyderm paradise for the price of peanuts.

As for the elephants, it was probably just another routine day at the 300-acre Elephant Conservation Center in northern Thailand. As part of their schedule, the elephants performed in 45-minute shows that displayed their former tasks, such as hauling logs, and newfound skills, which include painting abstract art that has sold for thousands of dollars at fundraising auctions. After showtimes, the elephants sauntered down a dirt road for a dip in a lagoon.

Beyond the organized activities, there was plenty to see at the center, which is 45 miles southeast of Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand. The conservation center draws more than 10,000 Thai children annually and a steady stream of elephant-centric tourists.

At an outdoor nursery, three moms were keeping an eye on their calves, ranging from 5 months to 1 year old. Nearby was a veterinary hospital where visitors could see animals being treated.

THERE'S MORE; READ THE REST.

Photo: One of the Elephant Conservation Center elephants taps into his inner Rembrandt. Credit: Sherry Stern / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (1)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Not the best conservation to promote the Asian elephant. The fact that they still use these elephants to do shows, paint pictures and give rides is far and away what Asian elephant conservation is about...it's using the elephants.

Check into the Elephant Nature Foundation and park in Chiang Mai run by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert to see how it should be done. They don't parade the elephants or make them do shows. They let them live and let you watch. Any interaction is solely at the elephants discretion.

Elephants don't give rides, paint pictures and play soccer in their natural habitats and anyone using the elephants in this way are not interested in helping the Asian elephant they are only interested in tourist dollars.


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video






Pet Adoption Resources


Recent Posts


Archives