Obviously one of the most exciting things I was looking forward to when planning my trip to Thailand was playing with elephants. Before I went to Chiang Mai, I heard a lot about animal abuse, specifically the elephants that people ride here. After some research, my friend Alex found Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary where rescued elephants and other animals roam free and are not abused in any way.
On the way to the park, ENP showed us a video of the abused elephants and it was extremely disturbing. I cannot comprehend how people can abuse helpless animals. If you are thinking about playing with elephants or tigers anywhere in the world, please do your research. Tigers are sedated so that they are calm around visitors and they spend their whole lives drugged up for tourists’ enjoyment.
I saw a lot of the results of the abuse during my visit to ENP. Many of the elephants had stepped on landmines in other countries while others had scarred backs and broken bones. The activities we participated in were feeding the elephants, walking with them and bathing them. Riding elephants not only causes them tremendous pain, but it also tears their flesh and causes scarring.
The theme of this trip has turned into raising awareness of the treatment of animals here. After Chiang Mai, we stayed in an animal shelter on Koh Lanta. It’s nice to see that for every animal abuser out there, there is a kind person who cares and works to make a difference for these animals.