Breakfast was served at 7.00am. It was a buffet so shock I went all out and stuffed my face. It helped cure the pain of knowing the following three hours I would be shovelling elephant shit. Yep, elephant shit.
It surprisingly wasn’t that bad though, it didn’t smell, it wasn’t moist, it wasn’t anything I thought it would be. I don’t want to go in much detail but it was pretty sandy and there were full bananas mixed into it. The good thing about the activity was that it was in and amongst the elephants.
We learnt that when the an elephant is born they will have a mum and a nanny. The nanny is basically a step mum to the elephant and will protect it when the mum isn’t around. At one point when we were shoving shit the elephants made a call and all the elephants herded together and put the baby in the middle.
We then went for lunch where I ate too much yet again. The afternoons activity was an elephant walk around the park. Here we learnt about the elephants and their stories. Some of the elephants had been found and rescued, some had been bought off mahouts because they were treating them so badly and some had been donated to the orphanage.
When visiting a hurd of elephants we saw a baby elephant being very stubborn and not doing what it’s Mum told it to. He then fell over on a branch and sat before struggling to get back up. It was adorable.
We were fortunate enough to feed some of the elephants and have photos with them.
Whilst on the walk it began to storm so we had to run for cover before the rain started to chuck. We had planned to wash the elephants but because the rain had hit so hard the elephants didn’t need a bath any more.
The elephants are form hurds based on their past. For example some elephants will be brought into the park together, some will fit in well with a group and then stay with them forever or some elephants have been toutoured so much they aren’t able to mix with any of the hurds and stay on their own.
After lunch we met the CEO of the orphanage. Her name is Lek. She took us through a PowerPoint which showed us the past of elephants in Thailand and what the current situation is. Although it was very sad to watch I’m glad I watched it because it really opened my eyes and educated me. I feel if European tourists were asked to watch the presentation they would not choose to ride elephants. People take the experience at face value and don’t think about what has happened previously for the elephant to behave the way it does. If that elephant had been in the wild all of its life it would not be obedient and have humans on its back. Similarly, elephants were not trained to stand on one leg or kick a football and for them to be able to do this they have had to experience horrid training and pain. Elephants are still today being used to beg in the streets on Bangkok. Being in the city is not healthy or normal for them.
Lek sent a clear and frank message to us all in this meeting and it has definitely made me think twice about the entertainment, manufacturing and tourist industry.