Elephant Volunteer

I’ve always been awed, humbled, and inspired by elephants. I’ve tried to explain this fascination to others: they show incredible love, protection, and bonding with their families; they stick together when the going gets tough; they pass lessons to each other down from generation to generation; they’re gentle giants but fierce when needed; they form bonds with humans but are not domesticated animals; they’re both majestic and adorable. But really, it’s beyond words. There’s no way I can explain through language why elephants are so important to me. I’ve never even seen one up close except at a zoo as a child; they are not native animals in my country.

But I’ve always been drawn to them, ever since learning about them as a child. In fact, the first item I remember ever buying with my own money was an elephant figurine at age 7 or 8, and despite being something of a minimalist decorator, I’ve treasured this trinket all my adult life until it met its sad demise a few months ago at the end of Kylie’s wagging tail and smashed to the floor. I want an elephant tattoo – a piece of art on my body symbolizing my affection for them. And more than anything, I want to spend time with them and touch one; actually feel its wrinkly grey skin beneath my fingers.

I’ve been considering for awhile the best way to accomplish this. Should I go on safari in Africa? Probably not; I won’t be able to get up close, touch them or interact with them, though I will be virtually guaranteed to see them from afar. Should I go to Asia and sign up for a touristy elephant ride? Well, this is not quite the interaction I had in mind; I don’t know much about working elephants and feel apprehensive about it. Regardless, I know that I dream of interacting with a free, wild elephant.

Recently I’ve begun thinking about visiting an elephant sanctuary where elephants live with plenty of space to roam and be free, and are cared for by volunteers. This seems like the right path for me. And today, I learned about Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary  just outside of Sukhothai, North Thailand. This is a non-profit refuge for orphaned/abused elephants and any elephants that need protection and care. They provide a safe home where elephants can grow their population in a natural environment, and they take volunteers to assist with the care of elephants, and have on-site guest houses.

So this is my goal: Go to Thailand, stay at Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary, and work with the elephants there. I need to save up plenty of money for this big trip, and hopefully find a travel companion! I’d like this trip to take place by 2018 or earlier.

Image source: Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary.