Photo Essay: Life at Elephant Nature Park

Written by on February 17, 2012 in Asia, Blog, Responsible Tourism, Thailand - 14 Comments

For about one week, I was a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park. During that time, I did everything from shoveling poo to being blessed by a shaman to becoming part of the heard and spending time with elephants up-close, to singing “Que Sera, Sera” as they fell asleep. There were tears of joy and tears of heartbreak.

And lots of photos.


The Park

Situated on 30 acres about an hour north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Elephant Nature Park is a gorgeous enclave where elephants rescued from the tourism industry and illegal logging industries and more, are able to live their remaining lives in peace and free from abuse.

The lodging is not glamorous, but I loved my room in the primitive Palace structure.

Particularly the views that include elephants in the background …

And even those that don’t.

Beyond the lodging, the other areas where volunteers spend time are vibrant, rustic and beautiful, too.

There is also the stunning tropical land inhabited by the elephants to gaze at all day long.


The Elephant Kitchen

The elephant kitchen at the park is a huge structure, packed with shelves stocked with fruits that need constant rotation. Elephants can eat upwards of 700 pounds of vegetation each day. With more than 30 elephants in the park, that’s 21,000 pounds of food being moved from the kitchen and other areas to the searching trunks each day!

There kitchen includes bunches and bunches and bunches of bananas …

Melons …

… Sugarcane and more. Volunteers fill buckets for each elephant and then help deliver them to the feeding platforms and nearby shelters for mealtimes.

 For the elephants who can’t chew the fruit, volunteers roll banana balls.

Life at the Park

Chores, like shoveling, are daily tasks at Elephant Nature Park. Volunteers shovel into a trailer and then a staff member removes the waste.

But, there are also other aspects of the park that should be mentioned, like the boards which honor the mahouts.

The mahouts and others at the park also lend their talents to the gift shop, where hand-carved renditions of the park’s elephants are prominently displayed.

Aside from the elephants at the park, water buffalo, cats, dogs and more call this place “home.”

It’s also home to larger than life insects!

Want to see elephants? Stay tuned!

About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

14 Comments on " Photo Essay: Life at Elephant Nature Park "

  1. Mica February 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm · Reply


  2. Chris February 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm · Reply

    Some stunning photos here. I particularly loved #4. Wonderfully composed and captured.

    • Diana February 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm · Reply

      Thank you! That was my view from my room on the last day of my time as a volunteer.

  3. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 18, 2012 at 8:04 am · Reply

    Haha I love the elephant kitchen, too cute!

    • Diana February 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm · Reply

      There’s a huge tub in the back and so much more that i didn’t include. It’s so big!

  4. Laura February 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm · Reply

    Love the elephant and cow picture. The kitchen is amazing!

    • Diana February 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm · Reply

      The kitchen blows my mind. The sheer amount of food in there …

  5. Jese February 20, 2012 at 2:44 pm · Reply

    LOVE the photo’s; especially those having anything to do with the Elephant Kitchen, lol!
    I also love the dedication of the mahouts…. when not herding around something weighing a few tons, they are busy carving their likeness for the gift shop; talk about eat, sleep and breathing elephants!
    I can’t wait to move on to the next chapter; thank you so much for sharing your travels with me!

    • Diana February 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm · Reply

      The mahouts are something else!! So dedicated! I loved watching them interact with their elephants. With many, there was such a bond and love between the two. The next chapter isn’t written yet, so stay tuned!! I am glad you have enjoyed my stories thus far. There are plenty more to come!

  6. Rease February 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm · Reply

    So many bananas! This place looks like a great place to volunteer.

    • Diana February 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm · Reply

      Yes!! So. Many. Bananas! There was even a huge frog nestled up in one of the bunches!

  7. Jenny September 24, 2012 at 1:36 am · Reply

    Your pictures are awesome! Great Job!

    • Diana October 1, 2012 at 6:17 am · Reply

      Thank you, Jenny! I had some great subjects!

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