Best Elephant Sanctuaries in Phuket
Best Elephant Sanctuaries in Phuket
Riding elephants in Phuket is not as benign as many visitors might believe. Before booking a so-called ‘elephant safari,’ first, consider the outstanding work of various elephant sanctuaries in Phuket and beyond. These are organisations dedicated to supporting the ethical treatment of elephants that let animal lovers get up close and personal with these gentle giants, while also helping local economies so that livelihoods are not lost.
For foreign tourists, a visit to Thailand might not feel complete without seeing a beautiful elephant up close. However, the methods used to tame and train these animals are becoming very transparent, and the reality is not attractive. Elephant sanctuaries listed below do not use the crushing ‘Phajaan’ ritual that separates baby calves from their mothers to break them, so hooks aren’t required for training purposes, and elephants are never ridden for commercial gain.
Here are two sanctuaries that use positive reinforcement training methods and allow visitors to feed and view elephants in their natural habitat:
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket accepts a limited number of visitors at regular hours, twice per day, to ensure elephants do not become overwhelmed and their staff are able to supervise visitor-elephant interactions.
It allows visitors to feed, walk and hang out with elephants as they play, bathe and massage themselves by rubbing against trees. Elephants can have time for themselves before, after, and between visitor groups. The half-day experience includes a vegetarian lunch and most importantly lots of interaction with elephants as they forage for food and splash about in the sanctuary’s natural lagoon.
Visitors wishing to arrange a visit on one of their half-day packages, please contact the sanctuary directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It offers a free pick-up/drop-off service throughout much of Phuket, however, pick up from certain areas can incur a surcharge. For complete details go to www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com
Billed as Phuket’s premier retirement home for sick, old, injured or tired elephants who previously worked for tourism entertainment, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary claims to have pioneered ethical elephant tourism on the island. Visitors are invited to feed, walk with, and observe beautiful rescued elephants as they roam throughout the sanctuary, socialise and cover themselves in lovely thick mud; as they would in the wild.
The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary predicts experience can ‘transform your world’ after visiting the tranquillity of sanctuary life amidst a beautiful forest bordering the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park.
For full information on arranging a visit to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, and how you can support their work, please visit www.phuketelephantsanctuary.org
How you can support and contribute:
Elephants eat massive amounts of food each day just to survive, needing to consume an average of 150 kilogrammes daily. Larger elephants can eat much more, with some known to eat up to 300 kilogrammes per day. Their diet typically consists of a variety of bamboo shoots and leaves, rice, bananas, watermelons, sugar cane, corn, tree bark, and jungle leaves.
Funds raised from admission fees are used for elephant rescue, food, veterinary care, infrastructure and land plus for future expansion as both sanctuaries are constantly receiving more elephants. Some money is also used to compensate local elephant owners. This allows their animals to be ethically cared for at centres and not ridden, made to work or be exploited for public amusement.
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