Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Ride Elephants – Play With Them at Dumbo Elephant Spa Instead!
So, you’re going to Thailand and you want to ride the elephants you say?
Hold on. How about spending a day hanging out with the elephants at Dumbo Elephant Spa instead.
Before you decide to ride an elephant, we thought we should let you know that elephants that are being ridden, doing tricks (i.e. anything human like) are likely being abused and coerced into “performing” for humans. Many elephants that give rides or go on “treks” are forced to work about 55 hours a week, and many are dropping dead from exhaustion.
Experts estimate that there are only about 3,000-4,000 elephants alive in Thailand today. Only 2,000 of them are living in the wild, the rest are in captivity, with many of them living in terrible conditions. 20% of Thailand’s elephants live in and around Chiang Mai.
So you’re probably wondering, so what can we do to help the elephants? That is a great question. A really great option is supporting an elephant sanctuary, like Dumbo Elephant Spa located in Chiang Mai. This sanctuary is run by farmers, who are supported by the government to feed, raise and take care of the elephants. There are no hooks (used to coax elephants into doing tricks), no riding and the sanctuary is completely humane. Not to mention, the money you pay to visit with the elephants is used to support the farmers and the elephants!
Here’s how the day went:
The organizers at Dumbo Elephant Spa will pick you up from your guesthouse bright and early (if it is inside the Old City) of Chiang Mai. We did the half-day trip, so we were picked up at 6 am. It takes about an hour and a half to pick everyone up and drive up to where the elephants live (in the mountains).
It was so peaceful and green up there. You also get to escape the blazing heat of the city (just a little bit) and enjoy your surroundings. When you arrive, you get a little intro about the farm and the elephants. You then change into a specific traditional shirt that the elephants will recognize as feeding clothes.
Here’s where the fun begins! The elephants come and great you and are excited for their treats. We feed them squash, sugar cane, mango and bananas.
After feeding time, we let the elephants go roam in the forest for more food. We sat and observed them for about 30 minutes. It was cool to see what their average day was like. Honestly, this was our favorite part. So many times animals are associated with entertainment. It was amazing to be able to watch them in their most natural and comfortable state.
We then followed the elephants to the watering hole for bath time. You could tell how much they really loved their baths!
After their baths, they climbed up onto the dirt and almost immediately started rolling in it.
After the baths, we walked back to camp to shower and enjoy some fresh food before our trip back to the city.
Dumbo Elephant Spa was one of the best experiences in my life. I was so happy to meet these amazing creatures and their awesome handlers. If you want to help the elephants and the people who care for them, please don’t ride them, but just hang out with them at Dumbo Elephant Spa instead! 🙂
Have you guys been to an elephant sanctuary before? Let us know in the comments below!