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List: Animal Friendly Elephant sanctuary Thailand

Animal Friendly Elephant sanctuary Thailand: But which park is real animal-friendly?

Which elephant park is animal-friendly in Thailand?

If you don’t know check this list of Elephant friendly parks in Asia of the Animal World Protection.

Elephants Kui Buri national park ThailandDuring our trip through Southeast Asia, we wanted to visit an animal-friendly elephant shelter in Thailand and that turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. The range of elephant reception centers in Thailand is extremely large. On every corner of the street, you will find a leaflet of an “animal-friendly” shelter, that riding on elephants is forbidden. This is often emphasized because they are happy in 2019 that (mainly) Western tourists are no longer accepting this. But does that mean that these shelters do the best for the animals?

A few years ago, we traveled through Cambodia for 3 weeks. During this trip, we visited a great elephant project in Mondulkiri, the Elephant Valley Project. Here elephants are received who had lived in captivity for years and had to work hard for their “boss”. The project works closely with the local population. Everything revolves around creating awareness and allowing people to ultimately give their elephant a life that every elephant deserves, a life in freedom.

Elephant friendly daycare Thailand

A project like the Elephant Valley Project naturally costs a lot of money. The elephants must be taken care of and the local people who work there are entitled to wages. To finance this, the project is open to visitors, but one thing is immediately made clear to you from the first moment, it’s all about the elephants and not the visitors. This means absolutely NO contact with the animals, so neither washing nor feeding.

This may all sound pretty strict, but this project lets an elephant be an elephant again. They roam freely in an area of 1500 hectares of protected forest and can do whatever they want. Of course, they are watched, because they are not wild animals, often with trauma, but everything happens at an appropriate distance. You as a visitor can see how the animals move through the jungle, what they eat and how they take a bath. You walk with them, but as said, always at a suitable distance.

Watching elephants Chiang Mai

Elephants Thailand

We were looking for a project like this elephant shelter in Cambodia in Thailand. A project where the welfare of the animals is central and that turned out not to be easy. The bottom line is that almost all projects in Thailand revolve around washing and feeding the animals by visitors. They emphasize that riding on the animals is strictly forbidden, which is, of course, a good thing, but it is still about keeping the visitors happy, above the welfare of the animals.

Washing and feeding the elephants do not hurt in the eyes of many people. But often those people do not realize that these elephants are also just wild animals. A dangerous, unpredictable situation can suddenly arise, in which one can be injured or fall. You don’t want that, do you? What many people also do not know is that tuberculosis is a major problem among captive elephants and that this can be transmitted to humans. A serious health risk when you encounter an elephant or when you get wet sprayed by an elephant. Something to definitely think about. Besides, who needs to wash an elephant? An elephant can easily wash, he doesn’t need our help for that. Let an elephant be just an elephant!

Elephants wash Thailand

For who are you doing this? Yourself as a tourist or to see and help the elephants?

Elephant parks Thailand & Chiang Mai

But how do you know which elephant shelter is ethically responsible? That is the problem. I could no longer see the forest for the trees and I had doubts about almost all the parks. Every park calls itself a “sanctuary”, an “ethical experience” or “eco-friendly”. But in fact, such a name doesn’t seem to say anything at all, it is more of a marketing trick to appeal to more people.

Self bathing elephant

Best elephant park in Chiang Mai

After our trip, I met World Animal Protection. They acknowledge the problem. On their website, they have a very informative blog post with 6 tips for choosing a good elephant shelter. A must-read when you travel to Thailand and want to visit an elephant shelter. They also pointed me to ChangChill, an elephant camp near Chiang Mai, which they, together with the travel industry, have transformed into a 100% animal-friendly shelter. So, if you are looking for a responsible elephant shelter in Chiang Mai, then this is a place where you can go to with confidence. World Animal Protection has also drawn up a list of elephant-friendly shelters in Asia. There are several other animal places in Thailand on this list too.

ChangChill Chiang Mai

Changchill elephant park

This Article is written by Sigrid of and I’m also happy to help World Animal Protection to spread knowledge about animal tourism & wildlife <3

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