by John Yeo

  This will certainly be the final part of this series of blog posts. I decided to focus on an incredibly memorable section of our holiday in Thailand. Earlier we had visited a cultural show in Phuket where we photographed a couple of captive elephants in a procession. We were unaware of the controversy surrounding the use of elephants for entertainment at the time.

  We had the opportunity to visit the Green Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket. This is an ethically run sanctuary that operates as a retirement home for elephants. Mainly elephants rescued from cruelty and for retired working elephants. The sanctuary doesn’t promote elephant riding or performances and is famous for it’s treatment of these beautiful creatures.

  We booked a half day visit and we were incredibly impressed with the spacious layout of the sanctuary which is situated in a large jungle area with large spaces that enable these impressive creatures to freely roam around.

 First we were welcomed by one of the keepers who gathered everyone together and delivered an interesting, informative talk on the sanctuary and some safety tips for when we got close up to the elephants.

    Firstly we were provided with baskets of bananas. We then met and hand-fed some of the residents. This was done from a distance as we were taught to hold the banana towards the elephant who grasped it with his trunk. There were always keepers hovering as the visitors slowly became more confident of interacting with the elephants. 

  There was a cute baby calf elephant who captured the hearts of everyone on the site. The mother was pregnant when she was rescued and actually gave birth to her calf in the sanctuary. 

    An onsite photographer was taking photographs of the visitors interacting with the elephants and these were later to be downloaded onto Facebook and freely available.

   We were led to an area where the elephants and an onsite night keeper spend their nights. This was accompanied by an interesting lecture by a keeper with the opportunity to question her on the treatment and some of the stories of where these beautiful creatures had arrived from.

    Next came a highlight of our visit, when we had a mud bath with the elephants. After we had thoroughly coated them with a thick coating of mud; which they enjoyed immensely; we then shared a large elephant shower where we proceeded to clean off the mud. Wonderful fun for everyone concerned, both the pachyderms and the humans. Good thing we remembered to bring our swimsuits!

    Finally we showered in some conventional showers and we enjoyed a tasty meal of Thai curry and rice accompanied by fresh fruit.

     A wonderfully informative fun day.

©️ Written by John Yeo