Elephants may be sage, gentle giants but they have suffered much at the hands of humans.
Hunted to near extinction, cruelly treated and worked until they die, elephants may be the world’s largest land animal, but they are far from the most vicious. Humans can bear that mantle.
Now, someone is taking on the job of giving some affection back to elephants in distress.
Elephant Nature Park in the northern jungles of Thailand is a 250-acre sanctuary for the mild and graceful giants and many other animals.
A herd of more than 70 elephants peacefully grazes within the fences, safe from human tormentors.
Elephants hug their saviour
The park is 60 miles from the bustling city of Chiang Mai and provides an oasis of calm for animals that have suffered torture, lived in fear and almost starved to death.
Elephant Nature Park is open to tourists. Visitors can experience the conservation work at first hand and have fun with elephants in their natural habitat.
Packages include volunteering to look after elephants, going on safari along jungle trails and even a pamper session where visitors can wash and brush an elephant.
Founder Lek Chailert has tirelessly tramadult.com worked to bring peace and safety to her charges.
“If I go into the field and call, elephants will run over and hug me with their trunks,” she said.
“The elephants come and crowd around me. It’s not all fun though. This is a serious venture and we have a mission to protect our elephants.”
Bull hooks and chains banished
That means banishing steel bull hooks and chains, the traditional tools for bending an elephant’s will to that of its master.
“I have seen elephants screaming as they are beaten and forced to work,” said Chailert. “I try to bring them dignity. Most of my elephants are old. At work, they only retire when they die.”
She explained that tourists see the animals performing cute tricks to raise money for their owners, but these tricks are the result of years of cruel training and torture.
At Elephant Nature Park, the animals are free to roam.
They even have a swimming pool where visitors can watch the elephants swim underwater.