Before I actually got to go and witness this:
I have been sketching, doodling and drawing elephants for the last two months (There are 16 of them total in my latest art piece). So when I arrived in Thailand and found out that it was possible to go to an elephant conservation center and interact, feed, and actually even help them BATHE in their own watering hole, you can imagine my excitement.
When logging was banned in Thailand in 1989 it not only left a lot of people unemployed but it left a lot of domestically trained elephants also out of jobs and with no purpose. It's a sad story of what happened to a lot of them. I'm thankful to report that due to recent government regulations I did not see one elephant begging for food and money in the city (something that has actually been going on for years). What has sprung up particularly in the Chiang Mia area are "Elephant Camps" Places where these unemployed, sometimes slightly abused elephants can live out their retirement years in peace with the occasional ride and show for the tourist. I chose to visit The Elephant Nature Foundation, an amazing camp that has 36 Elephants, most who have come to the camp after receiving injuries and abuse from their owners. Tourist can spend a day, a week or even months volunteering at the camp and marveling at these amazing creatures. I only had time for one day, but that one day has made a life time impression.
Here are just a couple of amazing photos from my day: (you can see more by clicking on this link to my facebook album)