Elephants, Thailand

Exotic animals are one of the main attractions in Asia. In the UK we don’t really do interesting animals so on our first visit to this continent we made sure to see the lovely elephants. I knew before leaving I didn’t like the idea of riding them, I’m a vegetarian and would like to think I have a conscience regarding animal welfare. I love tigers, they’re probably my favourite animal in fact. However, I did not visit the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai because of the awful stories I’d read about them mistreating the animals e.g. drugging them so people can hold them. With this in mind I am ashamed to say I think we chose a company who aren’t exactly fantastic owners of the elephants. Before leaving England we’d found a company with great reviews for treating the elephants well but sadly they were fully-booked when we were in Chiang Mai, a lesson learnt! We did a quick bit of research and found Eddie’s Elephants (or something along those lines)…

Eddie picked us up a little late from our hotel, that’s fine I guess – we were hidden away and it was quite hard to find where we were staying but it did set the tone. After getting in the car we stopped at the market to pick up some bananas, it wasn’t a big expenditure but I kinda expected that the elephant’s food would have been included considering the price we paid. Maybe I’m too cynical, it felt like Eddie and the banana woman had this little arrangement sussed, everyday she’d get a load of tourists coming to her stall and they’d split the profits made from the stupid ‘farangs’. In the car Eddie did not really tell us about the elephants’ lives or how the company cared for them, he did go on about the size of their ‘5th legs’ and how quickly their love-making lasts. Looking back, he was a bit of a creep. When we reached the site we changed into clothes they provided and it was finally time to see the elephants – woohoo! They didn’t disappoint at all. At first it was a bit daunting seeing the huge trunk come towards you to snatch the bananas but soon everyone was loving it.

Unfortunately after snack time it was time for the group to ride them. I think only 3 or 4 people decided against riding them, half of those being us two. Others on the tour asked why we didn’t take the chance to have a ride, they thought we were too scared to go on them. It clearly never crossed their minds that there might be an ethical reason. I’ll try to stop moaning, nobody likes a vegetarian-bore ranting. We went for a walk with the elephants while most of the group rode them, at this point Eddie tried to redeem himself – I think he’d guessed some people weren’t overly impressed with the whole situation. He told me he was working with another company about changing the tours, soon there would be no riding option. Yeeeeah, okay mate! I don’t see why they need help from another company, surely overnight they can just say we don’t offer rides anymore… no? Maybe I live in an idealistic(or simplistic) world. Anyway, I said no more ranting! We ending by washing them in a river nearby, they looked genuinely happy playing in the water so this cheered me up a bit. That’s a nice note to finish the post on, I wouldn’t want to continue by mentioning them being chained by the leg afterwards now would I…
In short, elephants are fantastic and animal exploiters are massive *insert your own expletive here, this is a family-friendly blog*.

2 thoughts on “Elephants, Thailand

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  1. Good to read a critical post about these elephant places. It’s terrible how they are exploited in Thailand 😢 That Eddie guy sounds like he was saying what he thought you wanted to hear, most likely they will just continue with the riding option 😔

    1. Yeah it is terrible and I feel bad that I gave them my money. I think you’re probably right sadly, he was most likely just lying to try and keep us happy.

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