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Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park

209/2 Sridornchai Road, Ban Chang (1), 50200, Thailand

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053 272855

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Description Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants in Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand, approximately from Chiang Mai City, co-founded by Sangduen "Lek" (Thai for "Shorty") Chailert. In 2013 Erawan Elephant Retirement Park opened in southwestern Thailand as an offshoot. By 2016 there were branch elephant parks in Suri and in Cambodia, and there were plans to open a fifth park in Phuket. By then the work was coordinated by the Save the Elephant Foundation.The parks provide sanctuary for rescued elephants and operate under a business model in which tourists pay to visit and help care for the animals, and can stay for extended periods.HistoryLek Chailert started working on elephant conservation in 1996. Teak logging, in which many elephants were used, had been banned in Thailand in 1989, and those elephants had been abandoned or sold for use in the tourist industry or for begging in cities. Elephants are also left maimed after poachers take their ivory.In the late 1990s the government of Thailand was working to promote ecotourism in Chiang Mai Province; tourism brought in 350 million dollars in 1997 and was the province's biggest source of revenue; the ecotourism plans were controversial with indigenous people there.By 1998, an organization called Green Tours run by Adam Flinn had founded Elephant Nature Park, a tourist site and reserve for rescued elephants in a valley about an hour north of Chiang Mai, with Chailert, who owned some of the land and leased some from the Thai government. At that time the park featured a daily elephant show where elephants performed tricks like balancing on one leg and playing football, and included elephant rides. She maintained a more isolated section up one of the surrounding mountains for especially damaged animals that she called "Elephant Heaven." The park had 34 rescued elephants. Her goal was to eventually end the performances and run it purely as a reserve.
  • 209/2 Sridornchai Road, Ban Chang (1), 50200, Thailand
  • Get Directions

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