Video: youtube, elephantnews
The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand is a special place. They rescue elephants and rehabilitate them from landmine accidents, abusive circus acts, and body-breaking logging work. The elephant then can live out his or her life in retirement.
Tourists are allowed to observe the elephants, and even can feed or bathe them (the staff are careful to choose elephants who are willing participants). This park was where I got to meet a variety of elephants during my trip to Thailand in June 2015.
Therefore, I try to keep up with news online about the Elephant Nature Park. This video of an orphaned elephant being welcomed by the herd made world news this week, and for good reason. It’s so heartwarming to watch good news!
With summer here (a short season in my city), I will be posting on the blog less – likely once a week – as I will be trying to spend as much time outside during my free time as possible!
Since I do not live in Thailand, my elephant volunteer experience was a one day event. But, I am lucky enough to work with large, friendly, intelligent animals here at home.
There is a horse therapy farm about twenty minutes away by car that does amazing work. The horses are all rescues, and they take disabled children for rides on trails. This is my fourth year volunteering.
My volunteer job is varied. First, I get to work with the horses – grooming, tacking, and taking them for some exercise prior to their work with the children. Then, I help the children get comfortable around the horses, and help them get in the saddle. I then serve as a sidewalker or horse leader on the trail. Finally, I have some messy chores to do like helping clean up the stalls.
Each horse has a sad background story, so it’s heartwarming to see how both horse and rider benefit in this program.
My selfishly favorite part is at the end of the season I get offered a riding lesson of my own.
Photos show three of the horses (there are seven at the farm). The last photo is of me riding my favorite!
Like too many Thai elephants, Nam Phon was born in the wild but was captured and used for logging labor. She then was abused in the tourist trade for decades. She passed away last month at the estimated age of 55 years old at the sanctuary Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where she has resided since March 2016. The group held a funeral for her, adorning her body with fruit and flowers.
“She inspired us and the many people who met her to strive for a better future for over 3000 elephants that still languish in captive environments throughout Thailand. She gave us hope to continue to fight for their freedom, the years of abuse she had endured never dulled her light.”
You can donate to WFFT to help elephants like Nam Phon. Interested in a volunteer experience? Here’s a video from Thailand Paradise:
For Christmas, my family knew what I wanted. They pooled together and adopted Malkia, an elephant from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. For $50, you too can foster an elephant for a year.
Poor Malkia was found standing by her dying mother. Her mother likely suffered due to a harsh dry season. She had to be humanely put down.
When the rescue team took Malkia, she began to scream. Another herd began to run towards the rescuers, trying to defend the baby, even though she was not related to them.
Malkia is doing well at the nursery – she is quite mischievous, chasing warthogs and regularly trying to get more than the allotted milk amount.
You probably have see dogs in sweaters in the cold, but elephants? Turns out a group of women in India have knitted colorful, beautiful sweaters to keep the elephants warm.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, India houses twenty rescued elephants, who had faced abuse from circuses and street acts. Many of the elephants had open wounds or arthritis, so were especially susceptible to suffering from cold temperatures at night.
I encourage you to check out this article and accompanying photos from The Independent. It’s heartwarming to see how the women are helping the elephants!
Video from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust