We woke up early and jumped in a van in front of our guesthouse in Chiang Mai. We were going to see the elephants! Elephant Nature Park is a place where they save hurt elephants and elephants that have been mistreated. It was started by a woman named Lek, whose name means “little,” but she has a very big heart and wanted to help animals.In the van we saw a movie about Lek that explained different ways that elephants get injured in Thailand: some have stepped on landmines, some have been mistreated by cruel owners, and some are hurt when tourists ride them. We learned that it is never a good idea to ride on an elephant, because the chairs that are used can break or injure the elephant’s back. At the park, they also have lots of other rescued animals: over 300 rescued dogs, and also some cats and horses and water buffalo.
By the time the movie finished, we were passing small towns and we saw people riding elephants at some other parks, which was not good. But then we arrived at Elephant Nature Park.
The first thing I noticed was the dogs. I saw one with a red scarf, which we had learned meant that this dog wasn’t friendly with humans yet, so I couldn’t play with him. Our guide, Nancy, kept calling, “Okay, my team!” and we followed her to the first activity, which was feeding elephants! We fed them melons and squash. We held the food up and let the elephant’s trunk wrap around the food and pull it to its mouth. We fed a grandma elephant and also a baby. The baby was more clumsy with the food.
Then, “Okay, my team!” It was time for the next activity which was to pet the elephants. Their skin was hard and soft at the same time. We also learned about the “mahouts” at ENP. Each mahout takes care of a single elephant, and they never hit them or ride them. They make them go by holding out food and the elephants follow the food. One mahout put a squash on his head and the elephant ate it right off of his head! The elephants all seemed really happy. Nancy taught us that they spend about 18 hours a day walking around and eating, and they sleep for only 5 hours.
Later, we got to bathe the elephants. We went right into the river and held out food so they would follow us, and dumped buckets of water on the elephants. I accidentally also dumped water on Miles.
Right after they get clean, all the elephants like to take a mud bath to keep cool. The baby elephant just lay down and rolled around in the mud.
In between the activities with the elephants, Miles and I played with the cats and dogs. I wanted to adopt one dog named Scooby, because his description sounded particularly cute and cuddly.
After a huge vegetarian lunch and some biscuits and tea, more elephant feeding, and more photographs with elephants, Nancy said, “Okay, my team.” It was time to go.
I thought it was even better than the ziplining that we did (which Miles is writing about) because there were so many animals and we got to get so close to them, right next to them. I think it would be good for anyone to visit Elephant Nature Park, especially people who love to help animals.