Every year tourists flock to Thailand for a myriad of reasons. While many come here to visit the country’s pristine beaches or to experience its rich culture and history, many more visit to interact with and ride Thai elephants. Sadly, most of these attractions involve cruelty and mistreatment – forcing animals to behave unnaturally for entertainment. Fortunately, places like the Samui Elephant Sanctuary allow travellers to experience these majestic animals while letting them live in peace.
The Founding of the Park
Samui Elephant Sanctuary was opened in January 2018 and was the first elephant sanctuary in Koh Samui. Based on the work of Lek Chailert – the founder of the Save Elephant Foundation – the refuge strives to put the health and welfare of its elephants before anything else. They started off with five elephants in total – 2 calves and 3 older animals – the herd has now expanded to 10 elephants in total.
Why is the Sanctuary Important
Thailand’s wild elephant population is on the decline – in fact, there are more elephants in captivity than in Thailand’s wilderness. Most captive Thai elephants are used as tourist attractions, housed in venues that often get over 1000 visitors per day. Here the animals are forced to perform acts that they would never do in the wild – these include handstands and giving tourists rides on their backs which can be detrimental to an elephant’s long-term health. A place like the Samui sanctuary provides places where these abused animals can rehabilitate and enjoy more natural life.
You can easily book a tour of the sanctuary online for either a morning session or an afternoon one. The sanctuary will arrange transport for you, picking you up from any Koh Samui resorts or hotels. Most of the region’s popular accommodation options are situated relatively close to the sanctuary – the AVANI+ Samui Resort, for instance, is only a 30-minute drive away.
What’s There to Do
The Samui Elephant Sanctuary limits the interactions visitors can have with its elephants so that the animals stay comfortable and the people stay safe. This means that you won’t be able to ride the elephants nor bathe them directly. However, you can still observe the animals taking their daily baths and even handfeed them bananas and chunks of watermelon. By visiting this wonderful refuge, you can be sure that your tourist dollars are going to an ethical establishment and will support the continued welfare of these majestic creatures.