Imagine a place where elephants with disabilities weren’t discarded as “damaged goods”. Visualize elephants who can finally relax and heal after years of hard work and abuse. Picture these said elephants forming new family groups and flourishing in a land that is truly their own. This place exists, and I feel lucky enough to have experienced it first hand with Derek this past year.
We weren’t planning on visiting Thailand, but things changed, and we found ourselves on a plane to the northern city of Chiang Mai. After some serious travel blog research on my part and Reddit surfing on Derek’s, we found some must see places that I will be sharing with you in the next few posts. Since we both have eles as our favorite animal, the first must was Elephant Nature Park. I spoke briefly about this magical place in my first blog post, but one this wonderful requires more.
Lek, the founder of ENP, has over 30 elephants on her grounds. She rescued these elephants from sad, prior lives of work varying from logging to street begging to circus acts. Some of the elephants have extreme handicaps, but their newfound happiness was visible. There was no riding, no shows, no chains, no abuse and no work, so these elephants could just be elephants again. They’ve created small herds and have gone back to some of their natural ways. There were two babies on the grounds when Derek and I visited (Nawaan, boy, 7 months & Dok Noi, girl, 4 months). It was incredible. We were able to feed, bathe, and play with the elephants who were social. Those that preferred a more natural (and wild) life did not associate with the humans, and Lek hopes to put these animals back into the wild when she buys some secure jungle land! 🙂 All in all…incredible.