The Thai Elephant Conservation Center offers a unique experience to visitors who want to get up close and personal with these friendly, intelligent creatures. After being greeted with a trunk in the face (elephants blow in each others mouths to say hello), you may feel inclined to rub its soft tongue as the elephant smiles at you, batting those 4 inch long eyelashes.
It’s pretty amazing to be so close to these gentle giants, considering
they are known as one of the big 5 in Africa (considered the 5 most dangerous animals). They seem intrigued and curious about humans, sniffing and suctioning faces and arms, as if they want to shake your hand. One of the unique aspects of this award winning conservation center is that the elephants “work” (entertain/perform) around 4 hours a day, and for the remainder of the day, they roam freely in the forest.
The specialized trainers, known as Mahouts, go to school to learn the skills needed to be an elephant whisperer.
The Mahouts lead a group of elephants in a performance for eagerly awaiting spectators. They march in a circle, holding the tail of the elephant in front of them, then they take turns bowing as each are introduced by name.
We watch as elephants kick logs across the outside arena, carry mahouts with their trunks, play musical instruments, and (my favorite) paint pictures, either the jungle or a self-portrait. So amazing!
We took a thirty minute stroll on the elephants, through rivers and forests.
Sitting atop our elephants, we felt pretty far from the ground!
Going down head-first into the river….
The conservation center even had an elephant “hospital” where the ill are quarantined and cared for, like this poor thing, who was a victim of a landmine. Take note of its distorted right (elephant’s left) leg and foot and the protruding opposite hip bone.
Mr. Yoo showed us how they recycle the elephant dung to make paper, which the center sells. The ball of dung is essentially just fiber pieces, which they mix in water, then screen. The screen is set in the sun for about 30 minutes, then, once the sheet is dried, they pull it off the screen. Final steps include sanding the rough edges off and then pulling the sheet through a roller. And voila! You have elephant dung paper worthy of writing on!
I’m just curious, would you be interested in visiting the Thai Elephant Center? Let me know in the comments section.
Thanks for stopping by!