The human capacity for hurting animals is something we simply can’t fathom at Ecophiles. Our co-founders have grown up in India and seen the plight of elephants as they are made to earn their livelihoods – begging on the streets in insane traffic, in temples, circuses and offering rides to tourists. We’ve sworn to never ride an elephant and we hope you will too – instead volunteer and spend some meaningful time with them.

We are focusing on the positive differences people make in the lives of abused and tortured elephants – through the life story of these amazing, spirited elephants who have gone from hurting to healing:

Meet Baby Navann & Baby Zuki

Navann and Yindee are two baby elephants born at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. They are very lucky boys as they never had their spirits broken or worked a day in their life. They live with their family under the watchful and affectionate eyes of their mothers and nannies. Playful and curious, the babies are the pride and joy of the herd and the team at ENP.

Navann feeding at Elephant nature park thailand. Mums feed babies up to 6 - 10 years of age or until the mother has a new baby. 

Navann feeding. Mums feed babies up to 6-10 yrs of age or until the mum has a new baby. Photo: ENP

On the other hand, Baby Zuki had a slow recovery from the trauma of being ‘trained’. Founder of ENP Lek Chailert describes his condition thusWith many emotional and mental issues to overcome, Zuki hesitated to even go to his mother Bua Jaan for the first couple of days of his reunion with her. Afraid to join the herd, he would amble towards a human instead of the elephants. The team removed themselves to a place where they could observe without interference so that he could be with the herd.

MeBai and the young elephant Erawan tried to hug and play with Zuki, but even a gentle touch caused panic and Zuki would run away fearfully as his memories subdued his basic instincts for family and friendship. He is trying hard now to adjust to the herd and his freedom. He has a very short attention span, had bulging eyes initially and the vet team at Elephant Nature Park treated his wounds. With loving care, he is much more social and healthy. All our love and best wishes are with Zuki! 

MaDee: The Good Luck Charm

The 65 year-old veteran MaDee was rescued by Elephant Nature Park mid-June, 2016.  She served as a trekking elephant in Pai and was moved to Krabi where she continued to work for many years. However, she was eventually taken back to Pai to continue working.

Her original name was Pachuli, but to give her a fresh start she was given a new name MaDee which translates as ‘Good luck’ – one she won’t associate with her life of suffering. Since arriving at Elephant Nature Park, MaDee has continued to adjust to her new life free of abuse and neglect. Every day she learns that she is able to roam, yet she is still sceptical of her new freedom. As she gets to know the other members of the herd, there is no doubt she will be included into one of the smaller family groups as she is a lovely gentle giant.

Ma Dee

Ma Dee with a watchful mahout to keep her well fed and happy. Photo: ENP

A Trio of BFFs who bonded over their Physical Challenges

Thai Koon, the landmine victim elephant, is named after the Thai Koon Steel Company, as the late owner Khun U-Rai put up the funds for the rescue. She was born around 1996 and rescued from illegal logging in Tak Province near the border of Myanmar. Thai Koon arrived in Elephant Nature Park in 2014.

Elephants - Thai Koon at Elephant nature park

Thai Koon. Photo: ENP

As a young lass, she stepped on a landmine, injuring her left front foot. As her massive weight falls on her right front leg, it has grown deformed. Thai Koon spent many months getting to know different herds. She likes Navann’s family, but her handicap limits her movement and she can’t keep up to take on the role of Navann’s nanny. Finally, she decided to hang out with Tilly (who has a dislocated hip from a logging camp accident and Kham Puan – blind). While they may deal with their physical challenges in their own way, they have spiritedly bonded and are now BFFs! 

Elephants at play: Thai Koon and Friends

Thai Koon and Friends

Will You Take the Pledge?

Can you take a pledge to help elephants – say AYE in the comments below if you agree:

  • Elephants are made to perform in circuses under very cruel circumstances. At some circuses, still-nursing baby elephants (usually 18 to 24 months of age) are captured rodeo-style, roped around all four legs, tethered neck-to-neck to an anchor elephant, and dragged from their mothers – read this valuable blog post on elephants in servitude by our friends at PETA. If you love elephants, never go to a circus that uses animal acts. 
  • Elephant rides are another form of torturous slavery for these gentle giants. Pledge to never take an elephant ride. Here’s our story on where you can volunteer in Asia and spend guilt-free quality time with elephants.
  • Never buy ivory products. Defenders of Wildlife is working to maintain a ban on a sale of ivory and regulations that govern worldwide elephant protection. Here’s how you can help via Defenders.

If you’d like to volunteer, visit elephantnaturepark.org for more information. Hope you enjoy some memorable green travel with an ethical elephant experience.