Thailand, 10 January 2017
A retirement refuge for old, sick and overworked elephants from tourism entertainment and logging industries, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary offers an intimate and ethical opportunity for visitors to spend memorable time with rescued elephants. The Sanctuary recently started welcoming guests on 24 October 2016, and have since enjoyed enthusiastic groups of visitors daily, ranging all ages. For the opening, the team has launched 'A Morning with the Elephants' experience that lets guests observe as elephants go about their day freely roaming the grounds, foraging, bathing in one of three fresh water lagoons, covering themselves in thick mud to cool down, socialising and simply enjoy being elephants. Visitors have the chance to get up close to these majestic creatures to feed them watermelons, bananas, and pineapples, as well as follow their enormous steps into the forest for a mid-morning stroll amidst nature.
Located literally off the beaten path as the only access is by a dirt road, and with virtually no fencing in sight, the 77 rais of Phuket Elephant Sanctuary land is part natural rainforest and part rubber plantation, and is adjacent to Khao Pra Thaew National Park in Paklok area in Phuket. At the heart of the Sanctuary is the Tree Top Reception & Observation Platform, where guests enjoy a panoramic view of the land and surrounding mountains, and can sit back and relax while watching elephants wander. Talk with the team of experts and learn about the plight of working elephants, their rescues, and how these lucky elephants are rehabilitated into forest life.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary was founded as a three-way partnership between Mr. Montri Todtane, an ex-elephant camp owner in Phuket, world-renowned elephant conservationist and founder of 'Save Elephant Foundation' Ms. Sangdeaun 'Lek' Chailert, and founder of 'EARS Asia' Ms. Louise Rogerson. Following a strict guideline of humane treatment and the highest welfare standards, the Sanctuary models its approach after Lek's 'Elephant Nature Park' which has been successfully operating in Chiang Mai for over 20 years. Here, elephants are encouraged to freely exhibit natural behavior, and are treated to gentle voice commands and endless tender loving care from mahouts, veterinarians, and caretakers.
Louise Rogerson, Project Director, says, "We are thrilled to open our doors to welcome visitors in for this very special experience. Our five rescued elephants – Madee, Kannika, Dok Gaew, Gaew Ta, and Baan Yen - are flourishing beautifully and their quirky behaviours really make everyone laugh. They know that they have a forever home here, and they are finally finding peace and happiness. Anyone who visits Phuket Elephant Sanctuary can be confident that they are supporting a sustainable, ethical and compassionate approach to elephant tourism."
'A Morning with the Elephants' is available daily from 10am - 2pm and costs THB 3,000 per adult and THB 1,500 per child between 3-10 years. Entry is free for children under 3 years. Reservations can be made on their website. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary also accepts donations from supporters worldwide. As a non-profit organization, the Sanctuary relies on generous donations to give the rescued elephants a happy and healthy life, as the funding helps provide nutritious food, veterinary care, shelter and enrichment for the elephants.