Last Thursday, I had the chance to visit the Baan Chang Elephant Park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. While there, I got to learn how to mount an elephant bareback and to give it commands. I also had a chance to feed, ride, and bathe the elephant.
Riding an elephant bareback can be difficult, and I felt like I was going to fall off three or four times; however, in the end I stayed on and had a great time. While that was certainly the highlight of the day was riding the elephants, there was something really fun about feeding them. It was neat to get so close to such large and majestic creatures and watch them eat the sugarcane sticks that we were providing them. Some of the elephants reached out their trunks to grab the sticks,but some let you put them directly into their mouths.
The photo above was taken during feeding time. The elephant had just been fed by my wife and was looking very content when the picture was taken.
If you ever go to Chiang Mai, I encourage you to spend a day with these magnificent animals. However, before you go, make sure that you do your research. While things seemed to have improved in the last few years, there are a still a few operators that treat these beautiful animals cruelly.
I found Baan Chang Elephant Park to be an ethical operator that seemed to take good care of their elephants.