Hanging Out With Elephants

elephant eating grasses
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While I’ve never had a particular fascination with elephants, when I found myself in Chiang Mai, Thailand, last month, I felt compelled to take the opportunity to see Asian elephants up close. After doing some research, we booked a trip with the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We got up super early to meet our vehicle, an open-air truck fitting eight people in the back, alongside dozens upon dozens of bananas, aka soon-to-be elephant fodder. As we hurtled down the highway, I tried to think happy elephant thoughts – and not to focus on the lack of seat belts, or even doors. Then we turned off the paved road and the really nerve-wracking part started, as we drove extremely slowly down an incredibly steep and narrow trail into the jungle.

But it was all worth it, because that day we got to feed elephants bananas and grasses, frolic with them in a mud bath, look into their brown eyes, and watch them hang out as we ate lunch – none of which I’d ever imagined being able to say. But I have photographic evidence, so I guess it really happened.

A couple of days later, we saw elephants again, this time in a much sadder context, at the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital. A private institution, they look out for elephant welfare in Thailand, while taking in and rehabilitating elephants needing special care. I’m grateful for their incredible – but heartbreaking work – which includes helping elephants injured by landmines, which they fit with unique prosthetic limbs.

 

4 thoughts on “Hanging Out With Elephants

  1. OMG, unreal! I’ll bet you had to pinch yourself throughout this amazing experience! And even frolicking in the mud, haha!!! 😀 An adventure all to be treasured for sure! I’m a tad green with envy; I do think elephants are extremely intelligent… I’d be willing to bet that if you went back there, they’d remember you! BTW, you forgot to peel the bananas. 😀 Fabulous hospital… Wonderful photos, all! Congrats on making the most of this trip of a lifetime!

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