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Sam Whittall

In Thailand, conservation awareness is critical as many animals are abused in the tourism trade. On the weekends, many volunteers want to take part in touristic attractions, and a part of that includes visits to exotic animals that cannot be seen in the western world. From monkeys to tigers and elephants, Thailand provides a range of animals to see, but the way in which these animals are treated is often abominable. Elephants, in particular, have a rough time of it.

Whether you are planning on attending a project at either of our Thailand hubs or if you are simply interested in travelling responsibly and ethically as you travel this remarkable country, there are a few choices to keep in mind when planning your visit to see elephants. Every choice you make, and every baht you use at an ethical sanctuary over a basic tourist attraction helps the industry to develop and make better choices of its own so that future elephants will be treated better.

Make these 7 choices and do your part in creating an ethical industry:

1. Adequate and varied diet:

Choose a venue where the elephants forage naturally for their diet.

2. Sleep:

Choose a venue where the elephants sleep in open natural space.

3. Riding:

Choose a venue with no riding whenever possible, but when riding occurs ensure it is without a saddle.

4. Environment:

Choose a venue where the elephants are observed in their natural environment and can roam freely.

5. Performing:

Choose a venue where the elephants do not perform unnatural tricks such as playing football or taking part in a stage performance.

6. Social time:

Choose a venue where the elephants have social time to interact with each other and express essential natural behaviours as part of a herd.

7. Physical health:

Choose a venue where the elephants look nourished and healthy, with no physical injuries and alert behaviour.

Of course, the best way to see elephants as part of travelling responsibly is to bypass the sanctuaries and volunteer at our Chiang Mai hub in Northern Thailand, where the elephants have a great quality of life and are protected, allowed to roam free away from hoards of tourists. We look forward to seeing you at our next volunteer intake!

All photos taken from GVI Chaing Mai Facebook and GVI Travel Instagram.

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