How many of you have heard of Tyke the Elephant’s tragic story? Tyke was a 20-year-old female elephant that was shot to death (87 times) after she killed her trainer during a circus show in Honolulu. This horrible incident showed how deadly the consequences can be when animals are forced to perform against their will. Tyke’s story was extremely heartbreaking, but it also gave rise to the increasing animal sanctuaries around the world. In this post, I’ll be sharing 8 ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand that you can visit, to support the work of elephant rescue. Though the cost of visiting is quite high, the money you pay will go directly to veterinary care, food for the elephant, acquisition of land, and infrastructure expansion of the sanctuary.
Elephant Nature Park is one of the most popular elephant sanctuaries in Thailand (Chiang Mai). It was first established in the 1990s, with a goal of serving as a care centre for mistreated elephants (More than 30 elephants roam free here). The interesting thing about this nature park is that it also hosts cats, dogs, buffalos, and other rescued species from all over Thailand.
There are many visits & volunteer options you can choose from. Including both one-day visits where you get to feed and walk with herds of elephants. As well as overnight visits where you get to spend extra time with these lovely giants. This elephant sanctuary even offers a 7-Day Volunteer Opportunity for qualified veterinarians and vet students to complete hours as a part of their field-work or university credit.
I had the privilege of visiting this awesome elephant sanctuary when I visited Chiang Mai. Check out more details of my experience here in my post of “12 Things To Do In Thailand”! Elephant Jungle Sanctuary has three locations in Thailand. Chiang Mai, Pattaya Phuket, and Samui.
They offer morning visits, afternoon visits, full-day visits, as well as overnight visits. And of course, the price varies depending on how long you plan on staying. Also, they provide volunteer opportunities for those who want to get more involved with elephant care and aid them with daily tasks. Check out the Care Project Foundation if this is something you might be interested in!
If you’re a more bougie/ fancy type of person, then you would definitely enjoy the Elephant Hills. This elephant sanctuary offers Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camps. Situated right in the national park of Khao Sok in southern Thailand. Elephant Hills aims to offer an experience similar to safari camps in Africa. Instead of just offering one-day tours like many other elephant sanctuaries. This park offers 2 to 4-day tours where you not only get to interact with elephants. But also go kayaking, swimming, and even canoeing.
Apart from tours filled with adventures, Elephant Hills also provides its guests with Thai buffets, standard transfers, English-speaking tour guides, and even a bar where you can enjoy a drink and unwind. This place definitely stands out from other sanctuaries in terms of its quality of service. But of course, it is A LOT MORE EXPENSIVE!
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary is an intimate, small elephant care center situated in Sukhothai, Thailand. With more than 750 acres of forested land available, BLES encourages the elephants to roam around and rediscover their natural social interaction and instinct. Many of these gentle giants were rescued from an environment of abusive treatment or possible extinction. And the founder of this sanctuary, Katherine Conner, definitely played a huge part in changing the lives of many elephants in Thailand.
Apart from sanctuary visits and volunteer opportunities, BLES also has a program that allows you to adopt an elephant! You can decide if you want to donate every month, every six months, or every year. And the donation will go directly to help care for the elephant of your choice.
The happy elephant home indeed is a happy place for the three adorable elephants living there. Situated in Chiang Mai, this elephant home is surrounded by picturesque mountains and luscious greens. And since there are only a limited amount of elephants here. Each of them gets the freedom to roam around and enjoy a spacious living environment. Also, each of these elephants has its own personal caregiver (Mahout) to ensure its safety and wellbeing.
Similar to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. The Happy Elephant Home offers half-day tours as well as full-day tours depending on your liking. The main difference between these two options is that, with the full-day tour, you’ll have the chance to take a mud spa with the elephant, as well as learn how to make traditional Thai food. And it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is also known as Phuket’s FIRST ETHICAL elephant sanctuary. Some unethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand allow tourists and volunteers to ride on the elephant’s back. Which is a big No-No! But Phuket Elephant Sanctuary has been able to meet the high standards of animal welfare. By rescuing and rehabilitating that have suffered injuries and trauma from the tourism and trekking industries. It has shown that humanity still exists in a world governed by power and greed.
There are many ways to support this sanctuary, and the easiest way is to book a visit there! Your visit fee will go towards the nutritious food for the elephants, the maintenance of land, as well as the wages for those who work tirelessly to support these rescued elephants.
Elephant Valley is a sanctuary that truly places emphasis and priority on the elephant’s well-being over anything else. The operators of Elephant Valley have created an environment of minimal interference from outside visitors and tourists, to make sure the elephants would not experience any negative emotions or unnecessary stress. So instead of interacting with these elephants, expect a more “observational”-based experience with them when you visit.
Elephant Haven is a recent project by the Save Elephant Foundation. Which is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and rehabilitating the captive elephant population. So apart from visiting Elephant Haven, which is situated in the town of Kanchanaburi in West Thailand. You can also donate directly to the Save Elephant Foundation to help with the development of different projects. Including helping baby elephants with EEHV treatment, or land purchase to give rescued elephants more space to roam around freely!
Do Your Research!
I think it’s super important to do our research before going to any kind of animal sanctuaries in the world. Make sure to check the sanctuary’s website and reviews, and ask for locals’ opinions. In terms of elephant care, DO NOT visit those sanctuaries that use any chains, or promote elephant riding. Instead, support the elephant sanctuaries in Thailand where elephants are fed sufficiently, and can roam freely, bathe, and play.
I hope this post has helped you in your research for the most ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. And let me know in the comments if you have any questions about my experience at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Or if you’d like to share your experience with us. And lastly, have fun with these lovely gentle giants. It’ll be an experience of a lifetime!