I will never forget the first time I reached my hand out and touched the pink-speckled trunk of an Asian elephant. Towering over me, this beautiful girl stood, flapping her large ears in the late summer heat of Thailand. She stood in front our little group of volunteers, all of us nearly speechless at our first elephant encounter, blinking her long-lashed eyes and curiously darting her trunk between our hands, searching for fruit.
I spent a week with her, and 35 other elephants, at the 200-acre Elephant Nature Park, a place where elephants who are victims of the elephant tourism and illegal logging industries are able to live their lives out in peace, without ever having to do another trick, give another person a ride, or haul heavy timber to the point of collapse.
The ENP is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand. Here, you can volunteer and visit to help. The park provides a natural environment for elephants and other animals.
At ENP, guests can visit for a day, overnight or volunteer for a week or more.
Obviously, ENP hasmade a huge impact in my life and my writing. I have spent a lot of time since I returned to America in late September 2011 educating people on why they shouldn’t ride elephants and patronize other elephant tourist attractions, as well as informing readers on humane options that let people get close to these creatures without causing them further harm.