Elephant Nature Park

“You know…they say an elephant never forgets.  What they don’t tell you, is that you never forget an elephant.”

~Bill Murray in “Larger Than Life”

I know you all know I have a thing for elephants.

It’s yet another topic I talk about a lot.  I’m a bit annoying.  I get it.

But bear with me, ‘cuz I’m gonna do it again.

While in Chiang Mai, Thailand last week we had the opportunity to spend the day at the Elephant Nature Park.  About an hour and a half north of the city, the Park is home to more than thirty elephants who have been rescued and/or rehabilitated from abuse, begging, disease, injury and more.  Visitors can go for the day, spend the night, and even stay and volunteer for up to two weeks.  We just spent the day as the overnight options were completely booked ~ how wonderful is that!

The Felt So Cutes were lucky to have visited an elephant park last year while in Phuket, but ENP is rather different from anywhere else.  Stayed tuned for why.

Because elephants eat the majority of the time they are awake, we did start off with feeding one of the herds.

Now this is a serious pantry!

pantry

We fed the elephants from a raised viewing platform, which was ideal, as we were essentially eye to eye with the lovely ladies.  Everyone comes running at chow time!

dinnerbell

Some of the elephants are blind due to abuse but because their sense of smell is so strong, The Cuties could simply hold out a piece of fruit and the elephants’ trunks would find it and wrap around it to take it away quick as can be!

feedingtime

watermelontreats

And speaking of eye to eye, do you think pretty Dani gets eyelash extensions like all the ladies in Tokyo? :-)

lashes

And here’s what’s so incredible about ENP.  After we fed the elephants, we climbed down from the viewing platforms and simply walked around the park with the elephants!  Yes, you read that right.  We were just walking around, hanging out with them, petting them, talking to them and chilling {OK, not so “chill” in 100 degree weather, but you know}.

roamingherd

{I’ll confess I have no idea where Little Cutie is while that picture was being taken, which probably isn’t really stellar parenting with 7 ton animals strolling about, but please take note of her pink hat and safe reappearance in the next photo!}

chillinwitheles

Each elephant has their own mahout, who is with them always when out in the park with volunteers, but there are no weapons, no chains, nothing.  The elephant ~ mahout relationship is amazing to watch.  It’s about love and trust, and the ENP mahouts get their elephants to move and go where they want by verbal commands and a lot of delicious bananas.  The secret to a family photo with raised trunk, smiling elephants surrounding you?  Baby bananas!

familyelepic

So at this point, we’re pretty hot and sweaty, so I can only imagine how the elephants feel covered in one inch thick skin.  Fortunately, the ENP includes a river, so we all changed into our bathing suits and headed there {well, those of us who walked on two legs and cared about otherwise swimming in just our hide!}.bathingbeauty

Having spent several years of my life bathing wiggly, squirmy toddlers, I can accurately report that bathing an elephant is actually easier than bathing one of my own children.

And a lot more fun.

elebath

{Of course Lilly suits with elephants were worn special for the occasion.  As if you doubted it?}

gotchaLike you didn’t see that coming!

The day passed incredibly quickly and after feeding the elephants again, we took a few more pictures and then headed back to our hotel.

All Big Cuties like to have their pictures taken with their mamas.  Here’s my Big Cutie with me, and the adorable eight year old Tong Jaan and her mama, Mae Bua Tong.

mamasnbabies

If you’re ever looking for a great cause to donate to, I can’t recommend the Elephant Nature Park highly enough.  Their work is incredible and the Park is amazing.  You can sponsor meals for an elephant for a day or more, medical treatment, etc.  If you want to see more of the Park and learn about it’s founder, Lek, here are some great videos.

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3 Responses to Elephant Nature Park

  1. Laura says:

    that.is.awesome!

  2. Jamie Burger says:

    LOVE! So cool! Hopefully we can make it there one day! Pictures are amazing!

  3. Kay says:

    What a fantastic experience. I have to put that on my bucket list. Loved the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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