Tag Archives: treatment of animals

A piece of (elephant) heaven – Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai, Thailand

There is a big part of my recent trip to Thailand that is missing from my blog posts – my one week volunteership at the Elephant Nature Park – just outside of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. It was the main reason that I headed off to Thailand again and I’ve been struggling to blog about it, as I cannot seem to capture the experience in words. I will try my best, in words and pictures. What I feel in my heart for this place cannot be expressed.

Elephant Nature Park is an elephant sanctuary, or more accurately, an elephant heaven. All the elephants at the park have been rescued from some form of (in most cases, multiple forms of) abuse and domestic work. Land mine victims, illegal loggers with broken limbs, blind ellies, broken and beaten, they’ve all been rescued by the amazing people at the park.

The stories behind the past of these elephants is heartbreaking and the fact that there are countless more where they came from, in the same situation, is even more heartbreaking. What animals that take part in as domestic work, or tourism entertainment, have to endure and the multitude of animals treated in this way is something that I struggle to comprehend. Thailand is famous for its’ elephant trekking and all sorts of animal entertainment for tourism, but if you take a look behind the scenes of this trade, you will be disgusted at what you uncover. I’ve never been one to force the realities of animal abuse down anyone’s throats and I am not about to now, but what I learnt about Thai treatment of animals, and Asian elephants in particular, who are supposed to be revered in their culture, is really something else.

So the Elephant Nature Park provides a haven for these gentle giants with such traumatic pasts. It was founded and is run by Lek Chailert – the warmest heart you will ever meet. She has so much love for these elephants and has dedicated her life to saving them. Hearing her sing to the young elephants to calm them down when they were upset with the introduction of a new baby, Navann, reinforced the gentleness of her kindness and passion.

Not only do they care for elephants (and let me tell you – the process involved with this task is no easy feat, it is a mass effort on a daily basis to keep the place alive), but they also have a dog shelter with over 300 rescued dogs (mostly from a mass rescue mission in the last Bangkok floods) and there also seems to be a water buffalo rescue effort going down there inadvertently!

When one of our volunteer group members asked Lek what we, as society, can do to help the cause, she did not respond with the standard answer of “donations”, she rather said “your voice”. So this is me, sharing my voice and helping to show people what is really going on in Thailand. As a tourist, please please please stay away from anything animal-related – it is almost certainly an abusive situation. Don’t be a part of it. Visit the Elephant Nature Park instead and experience true compassion. It is rare in this world.

This is proof that there is good in the human race. We see so much stupidity and heartlessness on a daily basis that this refreshing experience of raw human kindness is rare.

Feel free to leave your comments asking me any questions about my experience there as a volunteer – I am very happy to answer anything about this treasure of a sanctuary!

You can find them on Facebook as Elephant Nature Park and Twitter @save_elephant.

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Cows at work

I took a trip to Irene Dairy Farm this past weekend on the way back from a beautiful Spring Day spent with horses.

Walking through the deli shop, picking up a caffè mocha along the way to the lush green grass to sit under the trees, things looked promising.

Still rushing on endorphins from the day’s activities, I almost expected to find happy cows bouncing around in the grass, smelling daisies and playing tag.

I found no happy cows. I found sad cows. Cows that know nothing other than a cycle of eating/drinking while being chained to their tiny segment of barn, walking to be milked, getting milked. And then again.

Calves are separated from their mothers and lie in their dirty stalls, looking at the passing kids with a look that pierces your heart.

I’m sure that this quaint little farm is a lot better than other mainstream dairy farms, but I didn’t leave a with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my tummy.

The reality of the dairy industry is that it can never been warm and fluffy, given the demand  that we put on dairy products. Cows will not be jumping through daisies and laughing with each other.

Reality sucks.


Earthlings: The violent and heartbreaking truth about society’s treatment of animals

Earthlings’ documentary on the truth of society’s treatment of animals was brought to my attention by @claremelina recently. Human beings are @ssholes. Not all of us, but as a race in general, we really mess it up. As a vegetarian, I already don’t agree with the way that animals are treated and the impact of meat production on our world, but I usually steer clear of all those shocking ‘look how horribly animals are treated’ videos.

At first I decided that I didn’t want to watch even the trailer because I know the horrific way that animals are treated and I don’t need to see it with my own eyes to believe it.

I decided to eventually watch the trailer because it has been on my mind since then and I am sure I’ll be watching the full movie as well.

It’s important for us to remind ourselves why we do the things that we do and why we believe in what we do. Especially as a vegetarian in a meat-obsessed country where it is difficult to stick to your beliefs without having some form of mockery and disbelief directed your way. We need to FEEL the impact that we have on our world and this is what makes us human beings.

I urge you to watch just the trailer. It isn’t very long, but at least be informed – whether you eat meat or not. Just know what is happening out there. Let yourself as a human being feel…I think somewhere along the way that’s been lost.