What do we have in common with Elephants? – Living life in the middle of a sandwich

In general I love animals, especially dogs. We have two – Prince (Lab/Sheppard) and the Revolution (Yorkie) and you can guess which one rules! Prince is docile, sweet and very loving. He plays his role of protector of the family simply by the way he looks. People are intimidated (and some people are down right scared) by his size – he weighs roughly 80 pounds! But to know him is to love him. And he loves being with the family so he fits in with us perfectly given that we are all so close.

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Prince..
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and The Revolution

My family, the extended clan, in-laws and outlaws and the three generations living in my house including the dogs – we all look out for each other, no matter what.

I am fairly certain this is why I am drawn to elephants. By nature, they are family oriented and take care of their herd for as long as they can stay together.

For our 25th wedding anniversary,  Franklin and I decided to go to Thailand as a second honeymoon. Before we left,  I did research on where I could see and connect with elephants.  I had no intention of riding on the back of one nor was I going to watch them “perform”.  So I was really excited when I found an animal sanctuary in the mountains of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and that’s where I really fell in love. The Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary that rescues animals and gives them a place where they can roam free and interact with each other and people.

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A little bit of paradise on earth. Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

I can’t help myself but I am always skeptical and this place was no exception. After all, the animals are not exactly, completely free, given that they are contained within the fences of the sanctuary but I accept that it’s better than where they were prior. What made me skeptical is the opportunity tourists are given to feed the animals, help them bath (I opted out of this – eww – I’m pretty sure, the animals don’t need human hands to bathe :)) and to interact with them.

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Me feeding one of the teen elephants

The elephants at this sanctuary, were rescued from across Asia where they were used for work on farms and in the entertainment industry and most are treated with cruelty beyond belief. We heard stories of forced breeding that caused the hip of one these majestic creatures to break – several times, resulting in a perpetual limp, eyes being poked out if they didn’t perform causing blindness and more unimaginable treatment. What happens to humans to allow them to think this behaviour is acceptable? It’s beyond my comprehension.

This wonderful organization saves these animals and gives them a loving and beyond beautiful farm on which to live, play and love. There was only one baby born on this nature park and the rest had been separated from their families long ago. I could see the sadness in their eyes, especially the females (actually there was only one male elephant there). Heartbreaking and overwhelming to say the least.

I was so busy being mesmerized by these animals that I didn’t think to take a lot of video but I did manage to get this one clip of two elephants who came to socialize with the tourists as we arrived at the park.

Our trip to Thailand was an experience of a lifetime and it’s a memory that will stay with me forever. The 15 days we spent there reconnecting (Taking Time – remember tip #3 in my last post) with the love of my life reinforced for me of the importance and power family.

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