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The Chiang Mai, Thailand-area Patara Elephant Farm is looking somewhat like a maternity ward these days.
The facility, home to a herd of elephants that tourists can visit and help care for, is welcoming a new addition, a baby elephant that was clearly visible during an April 8 Tourist Authority of Thailand webinar celebrating the Thai New Year.
Patara Elephant Farm owner Theerapat Trungprakan told viewers that the elephants he and his staff are caring for were in some cases “rescued from unsuitable working conditions,” while others had caring homes that were no longer able to support the pachyderms financially.
Some Asian elephant facilities have come under criticism from animal rights activists for training elephants to kick soccer balls and doing other stunts to entertain visitors.
But Trungprakan – whose facility promotes “rescue-recovery-reproduction” and which shuns the types of activities that have come under attack by humane associations – said the mammals at his facility get plenty of TLC.
“Every elephant here is in good condition,” he reported. “There are a lot of hardworking people here taking care of the elephants.”
Patara – the slogan of which is Extinction is Forever – is committed to making sure it is home to “happy and healthy elephants,” he continued.
Elephants have a revered history in Thailand and there are many facilities enabling tourists to visit, helping feed and bathe the huge mammals if they choose.
Trungprakan added that those wanting to visit a Thai animal farm should choose one that provides an educational experience and that it’s “important to be part of conservation.”
“I have to say the experience (of visiting Patara Elephant Farm) never gets old,” said Tida Jeab of the Tourist Authority of Thailand, who’s visited the facility several times. “There’s always something to learn.”
The international tourism slowdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in some elephant farms struggling to pay for the large amounts of food elephants require. Those outside Thailand are invited to send notes of encouragement to those caring for elephants or donate money if they wish.
Patara is now selling vouchers for future visits.
More information can be found at pataraelephantfarm.com and thaielephantalliance.org.
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