As Thailand’s national animal, the noble elephant significantly impacts the nation’s culture and identity. To celebrate Thailand’s National Elephant Day on 13 March, we’ve rounded up a few things you should know about the magnificent creatures and why they’re so important to Thai people and some tips on where you can meet them.
Thai people and their elephants
The relationship between Thai people and elephants dates back centuries. The animal was admired by Thais for its strength and endurance and in ancient times, Thai people depended on them to protect the country during warfare. White elephants were seen as a sacred symbol of royalty, and the elephant even featured on the national flag of Thailand from 1817 to 1917 and is still used on flags and symbols today, including the official seal of Bangkok.
Chang Thai Day
Thailand’s National Elephant Day or “Chang Thai Day” happens annually on 13 March. It was established by the National Committee Of Culture And Conservation to educate the public about the Thai elephant and to demonstrate how elephants contribute to Thai culture. Activities include exhibitions about the history of the relationship between Thai people and elephants, and Thai kids often learn about elephants in stories and folk songs. The third important purpose of National Elephant Day is to raise awareness about elephant protection and conservation. Which leads us to…
Where to see Thai elephants
In Thailand, not all elephant meetings are created equal and we highly recommended doing some research before you visit. Avoid anywhere elephants are chained, forced to perform or give rides to tourists. Look for a place that lets you interact with the animal respectfully, such as feeding or bathing them. Here are some places you should mark down on your list if you would like to have an intimate and ethical experience with elephants:
Wildlife Friends Foundation – Phetchaburi (https://www.wfft.org/)
Happy Elephant Home – Chiangmai (http://www.happyelephanthome.com/)
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – Phuket (https://elephantjunglesanctuary.com/phuket/)
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – Sukhothai (http://www.blesele.org/)
Happy National Elephant Day, everyone!