Our first stop on our trip to France was in Bangkok, where we did a full day elephant experience at an elephant rescue centre, three hours by car south towards Malaysia. The centre was really fun and they actually had many other types of animals there too. Like sun bears and Asiatic black bears and iguanas and jackals. All the animals that they have at the reserve were rescued by the centre from service.
Pin the baby elephant with his herd
Tom walking the 54 year old elephant Bounmi (feeding at the same time)
When the elephants are in the tourist trade they are treated terribly; they are beaten, bull-hooked, whipped, and put through the Phajaan process (keep reading for more information), and they are not allowed to throw dirt on themselves, therefore they get sunburn and a lot of distress.
The Phajaan process is where people break the spirit of the elephant. They make the baby elephants fall into a pit so deep that the mother and herd cannot reach them, and they leave the baby there for days.Then they break the baby elephant’s soul (whipping, bull-hooking, and beating the poor creature until it lets out a certain cry which means that it has given up on life). After that the people choose which of the elephants they like before keeping that one for their own use. But then the rescue centre comes along and gives the elephants a much better life, sometimes even releasing animals into the wild.
Cola the sun bear (name Cola because before she was rescued she was fed coca cola as a drink and candy as food; the people who looked after her clearly didn’t know how to!)
It is basically the same with sun bears, except without the Phajaan process. They are given terrible treatment and they are given unhealthy food, but again, the rescue centre comes along and gives the animals a better life.
Simon the three legged cow who is best friends with a tortoise (see the photo below)
In Thailand it is illegal to bet on horse racing, so they race cows instead. This cow, Simon was put through a race, but then he tripped and fell, injuring one of his legs, so the centre rescued him and amputated the bottom of his leg for him, and now he gets about quite well.
Leonardo the African tortoise (best friends with a three-legged cow)
Believe it or not, tortoises can be put in the tourist trade, and are kept as exotic pets as well. The way you can tell that a tortoise is a tortoise and not a turtle is that tortoises have more domed shells, and turtles less domed, better for streamlining themselves in the water.
And this photo is one with a jackal hidden in it
Jackals are exceptional at camouflage, not as good as some animals, but still very good. As they live in dry, hot, yellow deserts, their thin amount of fur and golden color helps them camouflage and keep cool. To help you find the jackal in the picture I will give an explanation about them. They are rather dog like, but also rather fox like, and they have golden brown skin, with pointy ears and a black nose. Now you will almost definitely be able to spot the little guy.
Porcupines sitting in their bedroom
And porcupines? I don’t know what they’re useful for. Jabbing things with painful quills, digging holes? But they too are put into the tourist trade for some reason, whatever it is. So almost all animals suffer their unfair share of the hard treatment.
All in all the elephant experience was brilliant, and it was interesting to hear about saving the animals, the things that they go through, and how the Wildlife Friends for Thailand Foundation save the animals. It was a great day, and I think that everyone who went enjoyed it. Certainly everyone who went will say good things about the reserve, because it was a great sanctuary – great for both people and animals.
The jackal is on the right hand middle side of the photograph, up against the fence line but further down the fence.