We were not sure if we were going to see some elephants because we have heard about abuse that often occurs to make the elephants “perform” for the tourists. We heard from several sources about the Elephant Nature Park where elephants are nurtured. Many have mental health issues due poor treatment in the past. Some have health problems, have stepped on landmines, or been hit by cars!!
There are 72 elephants here with the oldest being 104 years old. Six babies have been born here. The babies have lots of nannies.
Here are some rules for interacting with the elephants:
- Stand where they can see you
- Never stand in front of their powerful trunk. Elephants are large and slow but their trunk is fast.
- Do not stand behind them
- Do not approach them. Let them come to you.
- There are many blind elephants.
- Stay with your guide. Be prepared to move quickly.
- Only touch the trunk with food. Despite washing our hands before feeding them, our hands have toxins, bug spray, and sunscreen. They are sensitive.
- No teasing with food.
- Stay behind the red line to be safe during feeding time. Don’t pick up dropped food. They will pick it up.
- No flash on the cameras.
Four hundred dogs are on the preserve. These dogs were orphaned during the typhoon in 2011. Dogs wearing a red scarf are naughty and still recovering. Do not approach.
Here is one of the more docile ones, but I still think that it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.
There is a cat kingdom as well.
We visited there but did not have access to the cats. There was one Siamese cat, my personal favorite.
Elephants can hold 14 liters of water in their mouths. They flap their ears to transfer scent.
They play in the mud because they don’t have pores to perspire. They use mud, water and flapping their ears to make a breeze.
Elephants use mud to keep the flies away as well as their tails. Some have had their tail hair removed to make jewelry. Don’t buy these products. Elephant hair will not grow back.
Elephants can hear up to 25 miles away. They feel sound in their feet. They put their trunk on the ground for more focus.
Elephant skin is one inch thick, but they can feel every insect that lands on them.
They love to play in the water.
Watch this video:
After a bath elephants throw dirt on themselves. Here is a group of elephants dusting after a frolic in the water.
They make sounds when they are excited, or frightened or angry. When the male is in musth, he can be very dangerous.
Elephants are smart and have the biggest brain of land mammals.
The sharp stick used to goad the elephants in the past has been prohibited at this park. When one sees an elephant rocking, he is experiencing mental stress.
Elephants eat at least 16 hours per day. We had a basket full of watermelons and bananas, and we had two elephants to feed. When all the fruit was gone, we allowed them to search the basket to signal the end of the feeding.
One of the older elephants can not lie down or she would not be able to get back up. They made her a luxury pit which has slanted walls which allows her to lean against the sides for sleeping.
The older elephants are wrinkled due to sunburn…like us.
Here are three girls who like to be together. Our guide, Mina, called them Charlie’s Angels. One of the angels has stepped on a landmine. They are trying to save her foot.
Elephants have babies from age 12 until about 40 similar to humans. They have 3 to 6 babies in their lifetime.
Noi Nah is one of the rescued elephants. She was old and her owner did not want to pay for her upkeep anymore. He sold her to the Elephant Nature Preserve for $40.
Elephants have six sets of teeth. When the sixth set comes out, that’s it. We fed one old girl that had no teeth. It was fun to watch her throw the fruit in her mouth like peanuts or popcorn. Watch here:
Elephant Nature Park has a large scale that the elephants stand on to assess their weight at least one time per year. They don’t like it.
This elephant is only 35 years old but was hit by a car and her hip was broken. She is very contorted. This made me think of my father and the importance of getting rehab as soon as possible to ensure a good quality of life.
She has a very caring mahout that looks after her. The elephants becomes very attached to their mahouts and vice versa.
Whenever an elephant dies, the elephant is buried where they died. They have a funeral and everyone grieves. The elephants visit the grave often especially those from her close friend group and her mahout.
It is time to leave, but we were happy to learn that so many elephants are thriving here against all odds.
Here are some websites:
Stewart Update: He is still in the hospital but is excelling in his PT/OT. However, he continues to have a bad cough and has developed a urinary tract infection. Stewart will stay in the hospital until these setbacks have been resolved. 🙏