One of the best sanuk activities to do when visiting northern Thailand is to go to one of the elephant training camps. There are two main parks in the region: the first is very close to Chiang Mai called Mae Taeng Elephant Park and the second is located just before the city of Lampang, about 1.5 hours drive south of Chiang Mai called the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC), founded in 1993 under Royal Patronage. TECC is known for its pioneering work in conservation and science. The TECC also proudly houses six of HM King Bhumibol’s ten white elephants in the Royal Elephant Stables.
I am having such a “sanuk” time dancing with the elephants!
The following set of photos were taken during a tour to the Mae Taeng Elephant Park during July 2012, in the middle of the rainy season. They will hopefully inspire you to visit a Thai elephant park and help contribute towards their medical and hospital expenses, maintenance and survival.
The toddler who stole my heart
The lucky mahout who gets to care for this cute little fellow
Enjoying a morning play and spray
Mother and baby (4 baby elephants were born at the camp recently)
Happy playing with a small broom
Another new baby
Striking an interesting pose!!!
Here come the dancing elephants!
Little kids lining up to feed the elephants their favourite foods – bananas and sugarcane
Such big brown eyes you have!
Happy elephants reaching out for bananas bought by the tourists
A couple of times a day, the elephants give a performance when they show off their skills in gathering logs, playing soccer and painting.
Not all elephants are inspired to paint nor have the skills. There are only a few that do so at Mae Taeng Elephant Park. Money raised from selling the paintings goes towards their vet bills and general maintenance.
Unbelievable that an elephant can produce a self portrait
The proud artist with completed masterpiece!
After the elephant performance, we took a short trek into the forest by elephant. It was raining at the time but of course the elephants love that!
Sure and steady on their solid feet
All elephant dung is gathered during the course of the day and is then transformed into paper!
And what elephant park would not be complete without a shrine dedicated to the god Ganesh?