I have a rather humble bucket list of adventures I’d like to participate in over the course of my life. My mother has already told me, “Don’t call it a bucket list! Call it a list of things you want to accomplish.” Apparently that sounds better to the ears of a highly concerned and equally loving mother. Whatever the title, I have a list. On that list is riding elephants. As I explored my options and destination plans, I quickly found out that elephant cruelty is an issue that many globetrotters are collectively determined to change.
Photo credits unknown at this time.
You will find elephant encounters are a popular tourist activity across Asia. Sadly, captive elephant treatment has become an area of concern that has gone less than addressed. Elephants have always been known for the special intelligence and friendly nature. While for the sensible person this would be cause to embrace positive interaction, for others it has caused elephants to undergo training methods world lovers should never support. In poor conditions, elephants face small confined areas, bullhooks, sleep and food deprivation and overall poor human guardianship. I made up in my mind that I would not take the economic route when it came to fulfilling this part of my bucket list but rather I would seek to find ethical sanctuaries where elephants roam freely and are fostered with positive reinforcement.
With that in mind, I don’t want my first experience with a gentle giant to solely be a quick climb on his back for a photo opportunity with quick haste to the next expedition. I wanted time to see the creatures, to smile, and to marvel at their incredible ability to interact with me. Most of all, I wanted training on how to interact with them. I was on the quest for ethical elephant sanctuaries in Asia. It’s been a tough pursuit to find ethical sanctuaries but I have a few recommendations for animal lovers and world travelers like me who want a robust and truly human experience with the elephants. Each of these recommendations are known for being cruelty-free, ethical, and open to teaching curious souls who take on the challenge.
- Elephant Nature Park
Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
- Thai Elephant House
Chang Mai, Thailand
- Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resport
Chiang Rai, Thailand