The elephants of Instagram

A round-up of's favorite elephant photos on Instagram.

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I often get asked what my life is like as an expat in Thailand. But, more than anything else, I get asked what my experiences with elephants entail.

So, what is it like?

Well, for starters, I don’t spend every day with them. I’m not that lucky. I get up to Elephant Nature Park about once a week or so. When I am there, I am normally escorting people through the park, working with the staff to show them the gorgeous herd of 36 elephants.

And, I take a lot (and I mean A LOT) of photos.

Back to the question: what’s it like?

Amazing. Incredible. Awe-inspiring. Beautiful. Peaceful. I could go on, but instead, I would rather show you.

To make it super easy, I compiled a list of my favorite photos I’ve taken and shared on Instagram for your enjoyment. I hope you can get a sense for the happiness of the elephants at ENP and can consider responsible tourism options should you find yourself in my neck of the woods.

For more elephant Instagram goodness, be sure to follow the eles (and me) on my Instagram.

#1. Mintra, Yin Dee and Malai Tong

This is my all-time favorite photo. I love it because it shows a family unit that wasn’t a family until the birth of Yin Dee. The son of Mintra, this little guy is special, mostly because experts at the park didn’t think Mintra would ever be able to give birth to a calf, thanks to her injuries from her previous life. Once he was born, Malai Tong, a victim of a land mine, joined the little herd and is now one of his aunties.

#2. A young Navann explores

Born in late October 2012 (I was there for his birth, which was greeted by trumpets, trunk slaps and elephant chatter), Navann spent his beginning months in a special enclosure to ensure his safety until he got big enough to get out and run around the park. During his time with his mom, Sri Prae (another land mine victim), he was photographed pretty much all of the time. I loved taking his picture. He would always play games with the photographers, hamming it up. Navann would spot someone taking a photo, let out a little grunt from his trunk, and then bound towards the lens.

#3. Lucky meets the family herd

Following a long journey from the Surin province in Thailand, Lucky’s first steps to freedom at ENP treated her to an introduction with the family herd. The former circus elephant showed no shyness and immediately got comfortable with the park’s largest group of elephants. Here, she gets to know Chang Yim, who, at 4-1/2-years-old is quite the cheeky boy.

#4. Chang Yim says “hi”

Speaking of the naughty boy, whenever I am near Chang Yim, I always look for a barrier between us. This afternoon, I was standing on the platform when he came by for some snacks. It’s the first (and only) time I have ever fed him.

#5. Girls just want to have fun

Mintra, who recently gave birth to Yin Dee, likes to have a good time. One of the most social at the park (and, apparently, who I would be if I was an elephant), we came upon her one day when she was playing with a rope. For about 10 minutes, she would throw it on her body and tug at it. Finally, she lost interest and went back to the company of her best friend, the crotchety Jampaa.

#6. The crunch

Medo was one of the first elephants I fell in love with when I volunteered with ENP in Sept. 2011. Her story broke my heart. She had broken her ankle in illegal logging, and then her back was broken when a bull aggressively mounted her in forced breeding. It took Lek five months to rescue this 30-year-old girl. On this day, I was with her and some VIP guests as she crunched down on some watermelon. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of an elephant chomping on a snack.

#7. Grazing with the family herd

Most times I go to the park, I am fortunate enough to get out in the field and be a part of the family herd. These afternoons are some of my most favorite memories of my life. Being able to sit with them and watch them as they enjoy their freedom is so uplifting. It makes me so very grateful for the life I have in Thailand.

#8. Yin Dee strikes a pose

The youngest of the babies at the park, Yin Dee is nearly as big a ham as the older boy, Navann.

#9. The human/elephant relationship

The darling of the park, Faa Mai, is one of the sweetest and most gentle elephants. She has spent an extraordinary amount of time with Lek and the two have formed a gorgeous relationship of mother/daughter. Faa Mai loves to put Lek under her front legs and stick her trunk up to Lek’s face to talk with her. It truly is one of the most surreal and gorgeous things to see Lek and Faa Mai together. In this photo, Faa Mai’s sister, Tong Jann, joined in the love fest.

#10. Jungle love

Thanks to recent donations, the park was able to purchase some additional land across the street from the main area. It is jungle, and elephants are taken up here regularly. Here, Medo, made the trek up the hill to spend some time in the leafy wilderness.

For more elephant photos like this, and photos of my life in Chiang Mai and travels,  be sure to follow along on Instagram. And for more elephant goodness, check out Save Elephant Foundation’s Facebook page. Trust me. It’s packed with more pachyderm awesome than you could imagine.

Which is your favorite photo?

Published by dtravelsround

Awakening the soul while traveling ... a story of being on the cusp of adulthood.

17 thoughts on “The elephants of Instagram

  1. Jaw-dropping photos! I think my fave is “Crunch” as it gets you up close and personal with Medo. I love how you can see her looking right at you, and that the watermelon is about to meet its doom. Great shots!


  2. BEAUTIFUL Photos D!! As always 😉 We have also been extremely lucky to have spent a lot of time at the park, and share all of the wonders with you!
    We look forward to seeing you and visiting Elephant Nature Park again in February! XO


    1. Thank you! The elephants are beautiful, so it makes for some nice shots!! I cannot wait to see you too at ENP in February!! Will make a night of it, for sure!!


  3. Hey Diana, all the shots are superb, though I think “Girls just want to have fun” is he one I like most… it’s really cute!


  4. Wow, they are such majestic animals. Even though you only get to see them once a week, you have a truly incredible job! I imagine it’s awe-inducing every time you get close to one of them.

    Thanks for sharing the awesome photos.


  5. These will NEVER get old. I’d love to visit the park someday, but for now, your photos will have to suffice. Keep snapping and sharing these beautiful moments with these incredible animals!


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