Elephants are much hairier up close, I’ve recently realized.
Their speckled foreheads hold in their superb memories, full of events they’d probably prefer to forget.
As smoke gathered in the air next to his right ear, his smile crinkled in anticipation of another banana.
Thep the elephant looked so happy eating those bananas that we needed to buy another bunch.
His skin was softer than expected, and his tongue slimier, but the trunk tricks were just as impressive as I’d expected.
He really didn’t want to be touched, even when being fed, so there was no repeat performance; we were just grateful to be able to lighten his load for a few minutes.
I’m sure I saw him smile.
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In the background, a baby elephant is mid-dance, human-like in her swaying.
Baby elephants in Thailand don’t usually get much exposure in the press or in real life, so I was glad to see this. But I learned later that it’s a calming movement, meant to mediate stress.
It made me wonder how an elephant feels. How can you make them feel safe and loved?
We couldn’t see her very well, but my assumption is that the baby, too, was chained.
And just like with Thep, there wasn’t much we could do for the other elephants in Krabi.
Eventually our bananas ran out, and so did our time.
You could hear the clank of his one chained leg as he’s led away.
We met Thep as part of an “elephant trekking” tour, not something I’d prefer to support, but the both of us really wanted to get close to some elephants. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand and want to see elephants, I’d highly recommend checking out the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. The only other ones I’d seen were rescues on a preservation in Cambodia. If you decide to play with elephants in Thailand, please choose an ethical elephant tour and never ride these already tame creatures.
Note that I took this tour while staying in Krabi, Thailand, a popular destination for visiting nature lovers.