Saving the Elephants

Thailand has a very long history with elephants.  For many years, they were trained to work logging teak wood from the forest.  It was such wonderful news to hear that in 1989, the government outlawed the use of elephants for this work.

Our elephant Billy strikes a pose. Billy and his trainer, Suk, have been together every day for 18 years.
Once domesticated, elephants could not fend for themselves in the wild, which is why organizations such as the Thai Elephant Conservation Center exists…to provide a wonderful sanctuary for the elephants to live and prosper and to educate the public about these beautiful creatures.

Bathing in the river.
Bath time for baby elephants!
On average, elephants in the wild live to 62 years, while those in the Conservation live an average of 92 years.  The babies and teenagers  frolick and play all day, the adults exercise a bit so they don’t lay around and get fat, and the seniors lazily enjoy their days.  That sounds a lot like us!

The baby has a little fun with the visitors.
The baby has a little fun with the visitors.
These beautiful creatures are highly intelligent.  Every elephant has a unique trainer who develops a singular, intimate bond with his animal.  The trainers live in the conservancy full time with their families, and never take a day off.  They devote their entire life to the care and well being of their elephant.  There are 80 elephants at this center.

Elephants with their trainers
Elephants with their trainers

Feeling them treats, sticky rice with brown sugar.
Feeling them treats, sticky rice with brown sugar, bananas, and fresh sugar cane.
There were 100,000 wild elephants in the 1800s.  Today, there are less than 3,000 in the wild.  Almost 6,000 are with owners and protected by the Thai government.  We were so moved by the gentle way the elephants are treated at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center.  It is not a place open to the public, but is for specially arranged groups, so they are not bombarded with tons of visitors.  They were the first organization to develop vet care for elephants.  Thailand has also outlawed any sale of ivory to help save the elephants.  What a special day this was to be up close with nature!

Tom and Donna with Poe Mai.
Tom and Donna with Poe Mai.
If you love elephants, and value them for our future generations, please check out their website and consider donating to thailandelephant.org.  We are adding them to our list.

 

 

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