Day 11: Elephants

“They say an elephant never forgets. What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.” Bill Murray

We had a fantastic day today at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.

Historically, in Thailand, elephants have been used in the logging industry, in the entertainment industry and in the tourism industry. In all 3 cases, many of the animals have been abused in order to get them to comply with their trainers.

We met an elephant today named Darling who was blind. The sanctuary staff suspect she was blinded intentionally perhaps by a slingshot which is apparently fairly common. This is done so the animals will become more reliant on their trainers and less of a headache to manage. It was a sad sight to see and hard for us to imagine hurting such a spectacular animal.

Here’s some more info on what they’re trying to do at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary:

At the sanctuary, it was interesting to learn about Maddee and Kannika (2 elephants who have been together for about 12 years and who have a special friendship). We were right next to one of them as she told the other one to hurry up and get out of the water – a low, loud, gutterral grumbling. The sort of noise one might respond to.

Some elephants eat grass and others, because they were in cities for most of their lives, never learned to eat the grass or foliage from trees, and so only know how to eat fruit.

We got to feed the elephants pineapples, bananas and watermelons. They can eat 200 kg of bananas in a day! We figured that out to be about 600 bananas!!!! They can also easily crush a pineapple in their jaws – we fed them several today and saw this and it was amazing how powerful they are!

Apparently a wagging tail (just like a dog) is a sign that the elephant is happy. Flapping ears are as well. And we saw lots of each of these today at the sanctuary.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures:


I was a bit worried that I had over-sold this tour to the kids, so really happy that it worked out as well as it did.

That said, Cole found it too hot out there, and after an afternoon in the pool and in the ocean there are a few sunburns over here.

Tomorrow we are off to do another tour – this one is a canoeing through sea caves tour on the North East coast of Phuket. I doubt it will compare with today in our hearts, but hopefully it’s fun in its own way too 🙂

Thanks to everyone who’s commenting on the blog and through facebook messenger!