Use these links to learn more about Asian elephants 

How to Find an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

Seeing live elephants is exciting and wonderful. But, how do you know if the sanctuary you’re visiting is one that focuses on what’s best for the elephants? Fortunately, there are some easy guidelines to help you find ethical sanctuaries. 

First, here’s what you should observe at an ethical sanctuary:

  • Lots and lots of space for the elephants 
  • Elephants freely roaming, socializing, and foraging for food 
  • Restrictions on where visitors are allowed to go
  • Physical barriers in place for the safety of humans and elephants
  • Certification by The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)

Next, here’s what you should not see at an ethical sanctuary:

  • Elephants controlled by the use of bull hooks or whips
  • Elephants required to perform for audiences. For example, they might be forced to play soccer, or paint pictures for tourists.
  • Elephants ridden by tourists
  • Elephants forced to pose with tourists against their will
  • Elephants forced to breed against their will
  • High admission prices. Most sanctuaries are nonprofit, and their modest fees are used for the well-being of the elephants.

If you ever have the chance to travel to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, here are the names of some recommended by

  • Elephant Nature Camp, Chiang Mai
  • Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
  • Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital, Lampang
  • Elephant Hills, Khao Sok
  • Mahouts Elephant Foundation, near the border between Thailand and Mynamar
  • WFFT Thai Elephant Refuge, near Hua Hin
  • Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary BLES, Sukhothai

In the USA, these elephant sanctuaries are endorsed by In Defense of Animals:

  • Performing Animal Welfare Society, San Andreas, CA
  • The Elephant Sanctuary, Hohenwald, Tennessee
  • Elephant Refuge North America, Attapulgus, Georgia

Some Ways You Can Help the Elephants

Asian elephants have been listed as an endangered species since 1986. The biggest risk to the elephants is the loss of their habitat that has resulted from deforestation and construction.

Of the surviving Asian elephants, it’s estimated that approximately one third of them are held in captivity and used to promote the tourism industry. 

It’s easy to become discouraged about the state of the elephants, both Asian and African. But there are some ways to help. Here are five suggestions. Maybe you can find more ways. Share them with your friends and family.

  • Sponsor an elephant! Read about the various sanctuaries and choose a specific elephant you’d like to help. Most sanctuary websites have links to instructions on how to help pay for a particular elephant’s food and care.
  • Donate to a specific project at a sanctuary. Sanctuaries have ongoing maintenance needs. 
  • Volunteer at a sanctuary. 
  • Visit a sanctuary. Your entrance fee pays for care of the elephants.
  • Tell others what you’ve learned! Educate your friends and family about the needs of the elephants.

Below are recipes for the Thai foods mentioned in Elephant Touch. Enjoy!