Thai Elephant Conservation Center: up close and bathing

After seeing adult and baby elephants from afar in Tanzania and Botswana, we looked forward to seeing elephants on our Southeast Asia vacation, and we were not disappointed. With a wonderful guide hired the day before, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC), an hour outside Chiang Mai, was a highpoint of our trip. Above, a male elephant with long tusks strains to get closer to the children.

Owned by the Thai government, TECC allows visitors to get close to elephants, feed them, watch them bathe, see a show, visit the elephant hospital and nursery, and ride an elephant. We did most of these, skipping the elephant ride.

The morning activities start by elephants walking in for the morning introduction, complete with an elephant trumpeting. 😉 See how well the elephants can walk, pick up leaves, and eat them — all at the same time.

Approach the elephants, and they’ll reach out to you.

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Here’s the young elephant with children.

young elephant and children
young elephant and children

Elephants love water. We were surprised to learn that the elephant’s closest living relative is the manatee, a marine mammal.

The show was pretty cheesy — elephants acting more like people than elephants. Of course, they sell food for the elephants.

Elephants like corn
Elephants like corn

There were a lot of children, a plus. Our guide told us the audience is mostly Thai families.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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