Today we drove out of Chiang Mai, climbing up another mountain….On the way, our guide reviewed Thailand’s decision to eliminate their logging industry. They are planting teak trees on slopes that were scalped clean because they grow quickly and adapt to the monsoon climate. The only negative of this decision was that it put many of their domesticated elephants out of work. So the Thais have been clever enough to retrain their elephants in tourist-friendly demonstrations.
This sanctuary had about 80 elephants, many born there. Each had a primary handler who work continuously with them. The result was an entertaining demonstration of elephant intelligence, strength, artistry, and humor.
The first activity for us was feeding the elephants.
Elephants have an insatiable appetite…as well they should as vegetarians at their size. But giving them a banana was a “trip) !!! They literally suck it right out of your hand and the banana is deposited in a flash down their Black Hole of a mouth. And two seconds later, their trunk is back at you asking for another. The only animal I can think of with the same eating intensity are Koi.
Next, we were able to watch the elephants take their daily baths…It’s good to have a handler who throws water all over you while crashing onto your back in the stream.
Finally, the elephants showed off athletic and artistic skills that were surprising and shocking…
Who knew that elephants cheat at soccer !!! In all seriousness, prior to this video, elephants were taking kicks at the goal, and their reaction when scoring was priceless… It showed that they really knew and cared when a ball was kicked into the goal !!!
Finally, eisals were set up and five elephants went to work painting various landscapes. I thought it would just be kind of fun with the elephants making some random lines on the paper. Instead, we got this:
The photo on the left was done by three elephants and hangs in their main exhibit hall. The other is from today…I couldn’t believe what I was seeing !!!
A trip to the nursery completed our visit:
A great way to spend a Thailand morning!!