I want to tell you about an amazing day we had in Thailand. We were fortunate enough to be able to “own” an elephant for a day. It took place at Patara Farm outside of Chiang Mai, which rescues elephants purely because they love them. We got to feed them, bathe them and ride them. All in all it was a great experience. All of the elephants there were Asian elephants, you can tell by their spotted ears and trunks.
To begin, everyone participating got a basket of bananas and sugarcane. Then we got assigned to a certain elephant, based on our age and personality. My elephant was named Tap Tong. She had a few spots on her trunk, and her ears. She was rescued ten years ago from an illegal logging camp. Our trainer held the basket and handed us the food one by one. I held my hand up high and yelled, “Boon!” The elephants would lift their trunks, and you would put the food in their mouths. Tap Tong liked to use her trunk to get the food too.
We learned how to care for our elephants and how to check four things to make sure our elephants were heathy and happy. If an elephant is happy its ears are flappy and its tail is swinging. To check if it’s heathy you have to make sure that its eyes are watering at the same rate. Elephants don’t have tear ducts, so they don’t cry like us so this is a way to be sure their eyes are okay and not too dry. Another thing to check for is if they sweat. Elephants only sweat on the skin right above their toe nails and it should be a bit damp when you check. The last two things to look for are their sleeping patterns and their poop. You can tell if an elephant’s sleeping pattern is regular once she wakes up. When elephants sleep they sleep for four hours at a time. They sleep on one side, take a break, then sleep on the other side. So when they wake up, the elephant should have dirt on both of its sides. You also need to check the poo….that’s right, their poo. First you check the color. It should be a greenish yellow, because an elephant eats greens and drinks water. 🐘⬅️🌱💧 The second thing to check for is the quantity. Six or seven balls of poop is just right each time an elephant poops. 💩💩💩💩💩💩💩 You should also should check how much water your elephants has been drinking. You can do that by taking a small piece of the poo, and squeezing it, water should drain out of the poo.😬 Another thing to check on is the smell. It should smell like soggy grass, or wet dogs. 🐶 💧🌱 A fun fact is that poo with smaller fiber is from a smaller elephant. 🐘
It was really fun bathing the elephants. I was the first one in the water. You had to take your shoes off and the trainer told me when to wade over to Tap Tong. When I got over there I was waist deep in water and the trainer gave me a boost up. When you sit on an elephants you sit atop the head, not the neck bone. Then the trainer scooped water up and poured it over the elephant while I brushed its face. We don’t have pictures of us bathing them since we couldn’t have our cameras down there, but it was pretty cool.
The trainer then pulled on the ear and shouted, “Ma!!” Which is the command for go. When we got to shallower water we got off, and brushed Tap Tong’s legs, torso, trunk, and tail. We also brushed her ears. Then the elephants stepped over a ledge and we used a kind of weaved bucket to splash them with water. Then they lined up in front of the elephants with our backs turned, and the elephants sprayed us!!!! I was really wet, but it was super fun!
When you ride an elephant, you can get up two ways, and you don’t get to choose. The elephant picks you up, however it was trained. An elephant can pick you up by lifting its leg like a stair, or by you climbing is trunk. Then, when you are riding, you put your knees behind its big flappy ears, which are surprisingly strong. There is also a rope tied around the elephant that you can hold onto if you need to. You have to wear riding pants, so that the elephant’s rough skin doesn’t scratch you. Personally, I thought the skin felt like a vinyl chair with hair. Also, I felt very safe riding an elephant. You should definitely try it if you ever have the chance!