Why we do not bathe with elephants at Tree Tops Elephant Reserve
Some of you will have followed me at Tree Tops Elephant Reserve from either visiting us after we opened Tree Tops in October 2019 or from our past work in Phuket and Cambodia. However, many of you will be first time visitors to this website and wondering why we are writing this article.
In 2016 we brought the first ever non bathing elephant project to Phuket to give elephants in the tourism industry a much better existence and a happy life going forward. This was a great success and after leaving the project with the Thai family to carry on the good work, we decided to create something in the south of Phuket and much closer to the tourist hotspots.
What we found is that many people are either misinformed about what elephants actually enjoy, are misled about what the fundamentals of a real elephant sanctuary are, and generally told tall tales about how elephants are born in captivity and are happy to interact closely with humans.
What elephants actually enjoy is a far cry from what a high percentage of tourist attractions offer.
If you can shower with them, climb on them, bathe with them, throw mud at them, ride them, see them playing a harmonica or twirling a hula hoop, buy a painting they have done, etc, etc, then the elephant will have been training for months, even years, for this an unnatural and often cruel way.
Elephants do not enjoy loud environments, screaming or shouting, or crowds of people in the water with them. If you are in the water, why does the mahout need to be there? The answer is to keep the elephant in the mud or water with you!
What elephants enjoy is being with other elephants, bathing alone or with other elephants, throwing mud on themselves, scratching against trees, grazing alone or with each other, and generally behaving as close as you can possibly get to a natural environment.
Ask yourself this question. In the wild, what would they be doing? Is it good for them as well as me? Does this feel right? I think if you look hard enough you will know the answer.
At Tree Tops we put the welfare of the elephants first. Always. Happy elephants means happy customers and a peaceful life for all our elephants that have worked hard in the tourism entertainment industry or logging industries.
Please enjoy the video below and thank you for reading our first blog post.
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