My Time with the Elephants

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.

Beautiful Mae Jan Peng - the first ele I ever met :)

Beautiful Mae Jan Peng – the first ele I ever met 🙂

With Mae Perm

Mae Perm



Meeting Lek for the first time – she was nursing two orphaned kittens that were found dumped in the creek

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.


Enjoying a good scratch after a dirt bath


Goofing off with Paulina and Wan

Elephants eat 1/10th of their body weight every day. And for a 2-4 ton animal, that’s a lot of fruit!


Time to wash melons!


This is only half of them.


Time to cut some corn!


Carrying the corn bales to the truck

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 😉


Washing the sweet Medo – broken back and hip from forced breeding.


Cooling off in the river


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.


Happy Ele

About juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.
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3 Responses to My Time with the Elephants

  1. In the picture of the two elephants under Mae perm, is that a tumor that the larger one has? If so, does anyone know if it’s malignant and, if so, can it be removed?

    Liked by 1 person

    • juliamenn says:

      hmm. I’m not sure. I’ll ask when I go back. I believe that is Seri. There’s another ele (Sook Suun) that has a massive cyst on her face, but it’s benign.


  2. grandpatim21 says:

    What an amazing adventure you’re having! I love reading about it and seeing the wonderful pix and videos:))

    Liked by 1 person

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