Tuesday, May 22, 2007
At the request of my dear friend Torshy who is dying to know what "Fixing elephants" really means here goes...it's not that exciting really. Sounds better on a post it note than in practice. By fixing elephants I meant I was fixing an article for the Sunday Mag that i'd written on elephants. It was proving to be a right bugger in terms of editing it down to the required 1300 words as per my editors request and the reason it was so dammed hard was because it is a subject very close to my heart.
Last year in February Ed and I were fortunate enough to go and volunteer at the most wonderful Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. (Check it out at www.elephantnaturefoundation.org) or check out my blog entries from Feb 2006.
At the park over 30 Thai elephants have been rescued from horrible lives of drudgery, either serving the illegal logging industry or worse serving the tourist industry. The stories are horrendous, tiny babies taken from their mothers and forced to beg in city streets and being hit by cars in heavy traffic, adults being underfed, overworked and beaten to take dopey tourists on rides and then there are the ellies who have had the living daylights beaten out of them with metal hooks to learn cute tricks like playing soccer, painting or playing musical instruments - all for the amusement of us visitors. Without wanting to get on my high horse (or should that be high elephant) all I can say is that if you go to Thailand or Cambodia or India or anywhere else where Asian elephants live and you want to see elephants - find somewhere that just lets them be elephants. You really don't need to ride one of these lovely, smart, sensitive creatures to have an 'experience', or watch them paint or do stupid tricks. If you knew what most of them had been through so you could do it, you really wouldn't want to anymore. Oh yeah - and did I mention that they are seriously endangered too? Thailands only got about 2000 elephants left and the numbers are declining each year.
So if you find yourself somewhere near Chiang Mai and would like a positive elephant adventure - I'd highly recommend the Elephant Nature Park - it rocks.