Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a new sanctuary in Phuket. It has only been open for tourist for a little over six months but it is the only true elephant sanctuary in Phuket. It is partnered with with Elephant Nature Park, the foundation that Christopher and Megan volunteered at for a week in Northern Thailand. Megan and Christopher were thrilled to read about this sanctuary and so excited to share their love for elephants with the family when they came. The day with the elephants did not disappoint either!
First, we watched a movie about elephants and why they need our help. We learned about how they are abused in the tourist and logging industries. We also learned a bit about each of the rescued elephants. There are currently only 4 elephants at the sanctuary, but one day they will be able to rescue up to 20 elephants!
Gaew Ta came up to the visitor house first for a snack. She was fed by staff and ate alone. She is permanently blind in both eyes and prefers to wander around alone then with the other elephants. She is in her 50’s and worked in the logging and trekking camps before being rescued.
After Gaew Ta had her snack she went back into the jungle and the other three elephants came to the visitor house. We were able to feed these elephants ourselves! We fed them bananas and cucumbers. It was great! Megan was beyond happy to be interacting with elephants again.
Megan’s mom, Christine, could not get over how rough their trunk feels. We loved being able to interact with them. It is easy to understand how kind and gentle elephants are but also how powerful they can be.
Once done with their snack the three elephants went back into the jungle. We walked with them for about an hour and a half through the jungle watching them interact with their environment. It is fascinating to see them move gracefully around the jungle at times, and at other times pull down huge bamboo shoots to eat. They are magnificent animals. We all especially enjoyed watching them break the bamboo in order to eat the softer bamboo on the top of the shoot. Megan’s dad, Mike, was the most impressed with the strength at which they were snapping the large bamboo shoots.
Madee is in her 60’s and worked in a logging and tourism camps before coming to the sanctuary. She is known for being the talkative elephant at the sanctuary and can usually be heard making squeaking noises. We all enjoyed hearing them communicate but Mom and Claudine really found it fascinating! Her best friend, Kannika, is also a rescue at the sanctuary. She is 32 and was rescued from the same tourist camp. We heard her trumpeting back to Madee in conversation. It made us all happy to think of two friends talking in the jungle.
Dok Gaew is in her late 60’s. She stays with Madee and Kannika but has only been with them for a few months now. When she arrived at the sanctuary she required 3 months of intensive medical care. When she was rescued she could no long walk due to a large open, infected wound on her left front elbow. Thanks to the good medical care of the sanctuary she is now walking through the jungle on her own with her new friends. You can still see where the wound is but it is superficial now and will continue healing. They put a tumeric powder on the wound as a natural anti-infection treatment.
The sanctuary also had a few dogs wander the property as well. They are rescues, like the elephants. They happily walked around with the tourist and laid at our feet while we ate lunch. It is so nice to be around dogs when we have the chance and Christopher probably petted each dog at least twice! We enjoyed seeing such happy dogs wandering the property.
We love elephants and we love spending time with them in environments that are safe for them. Our views on all animal tourism has changed as a direct result of our time with these amazing animals. It was a dream come true to be able to share this experience with people we love and for them to experience first hand what we did. We know that it opened their eyes to the abuse that animals in tourism face all over the world as well.