How can we not resist the chance to give these adorable giants with floppy ears a big hug? It’s part of the Thailand adventure to see an elephant and pet an elephant, maybe even to ride one? Being a huge tourist trend, there are loads of elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, but which one should you choose. Here are some things to keep in mind before visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
We always look at the price. Traveling on a budget, we pick the cheapest options. However, the cheapest elephant tours do not necessarily mean you will be surrounded by well-treated elephants. Just think about it.
An average adult elephant is like 2.5 to 4 meters with a weight of 2,268 to 6,350 kilograms. That means an average adult elephant will need at least 23 times more food and water than a 100 kg person. In fact, being herbivores that do not consume protein, they tend to spend 12-18 hours just feeding and can consume at least 91 kilograms of food and 190 liters of water. As each sanctuary has more than one elephant, they will need a really big space and huge supplies of food water to keep the elephants happy. Of course, the mahouts who take care of them need to be taken care of as well.
Of course, it does not always mean that the most expensive tours will have the best-treated elephants. Instead of looking at prices, check out reviews and lists of elephant sanctuaries that are deemed to be ethical.
Take a look at our list: 6 Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries to Visit in Thailand.
DON’T RIDE AN ELEPHANT
It’s so cool to be on top of such a huge beast, but it’s really no fun for the elephant. Yes. Elephants can carry your weight easily for a few minutes. With its size, you’d be like a backpack that he can carry on his back for hours, you might think. Well, have you ever tried crawling for hours with a heavy metal backpack on your back? It’s way different from carrying that nicely cushioned backpack you carry in an upright position.
The elephants have to go through this for at least eight hours a day without any breaks. During the rides, they are also treated poorly, prodded with bamboo sticks and sometimes even hit. Worse, that metal chair on their back does chafe their sensitive skin. As you might have noticed, they do not have much fur on them.
SAVE UP FOR IT AND DO IT RIGHT
As all magical experiences go, go all the way and do it right. Do your research based on reviews and pick the perfect tour. Maybe it’s a bit more expensive than you would like it to be but if you walk into Thailand with an amount that you saved up specifically for this amazing experience, then you would be able to make the most out of it. Better than the usual walking tours, where you get to see some elephants and ride them, you would be able to bond with the elephants while taking care of them. You will also have the satisfaction of putting your money on something that counts – an ethical sanctuary that really takes care of these endangered creatures.
WHAT’S YOUR ELEPHANT EXPERIENCE IN THAILAND LIKE?
Let us know about your own elephant experience. What was the sanctuary like? How were the elephants treated? Feel free to write about an elephant sanctuary where elephants weren’t treated right. Fellow travelers deserve to know what they are getting into.