Walk Like an Elephant
Patter Elephant Farm - Chiang Mai, THAILAND
I spent many hours researching the numerous elephant parks in the Chiang Mai region to find an eco-friendly, sustainable place with rescued working elephants. Patara Elephant Farm fits the bill. You make your reservation online and join travelers arriving from all over the world to become an elephant owner for a day.
The Mahouts (elephant owners) observe how the individual elephants respond to each traveler excitedly feeding them morning treats. I later realised it was during this session the Mahouts matched us to the personalities of their elephants. We were put to work doing all the work the Mahouts would usually do themselves to care for their elephant (including smelling fresh elephant poo for signs of poor health).
The walk to exercise the elephants was rocky, muddy and slippery. Though it’s reassuring to realise the elephants are surefooted and have been through the jungle many times. After a couple of hours we came out to a little clearing where a Thai lady had prepared us a traditional banquet. It was a delicious spread, and even the elephants agreed as we fed our leftovers to them!
While taking the elephants for a bath in the river I began to understand how much they loved to play in the water. It was wonderful to actively contribute to a cause that not only rescues and rehabilitates the animals, but a place that allows elephants to just enjoy being elephants.