I spent the last week at Elephant Nature Park, learning about, helping take care of, and getting to interact with the elephants they have rescued. To say the least, it was amazing.
ENP, founded by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, is an animal haven to 44 elephants, 420 dogs, 200+ cats, and a herd of water buffalo, along with various other animals that come through their doors (abandoned, sick, injured, etc), including monkeys, birds, and horses. It is a sprawling 200 acres tucked away in the mountains a few hours drive north of Chiang Mai; a blissful retreat.
The work Lek and her team do is vital for the wellbeing of the Asian elephant – a sorely endangered breed, and an animal heavily ill-used by the Thai, Myanmar, Indian, Laos, and Vietnamese people for industry and, primarily, tourism. Greed and power are major players in the plight of the Asian elephant. But more on that in a later post…
For now, let’s focus on something a little more palatable. My first week at ENP was spent in a variety of tasks – from cutting corn and tossing melons, to scooping poo and scrubbing stalls. It was strenuous physical labor that reminded me of my childhood – hours spent outside or in a barn, surrounded by animals and their sweet scent.
Elephants eat 1/10th of their body weight every day. And for a 2-4 ton animal, that’s a lot of fruit!
Every day we get to wash the elephants as they cross the river on their way back to the shelters for the night. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it 😉
I am so blessed to be able to spend a second week at ENP starting Tuesday. I had to come back to Chiang Mai to extend my visa, and the internet at the Park is very unreliable – hence the lack of new posts in the past week. But rest assured I am alive and well and will have much more to share as my adventure continues.
Until next time, dear readers, be well.