Thursday, 18 September 2014

Taking care of elephants in Hutsadin Elephant Foundation for half a day

  I have always dreamt to volunteer animal centres in south Asia. When I made up my mind in summer, I looked up the internet for information. Things changed and at the end the whole family decided to have our vacation in Thailand this year, which means I could only spend at most one day on that. I'd really love to visit Hutsadin Elephant Foundation in Hua Hin, so I contacted them through email, and got things arranged.

  Hutsadin was within 10 mins ride from the resort I stayed, and we arrived there before 9am that morning. We found ourselves surrounded by dogs as soon as we settled, but they were extremely nice dogs.

 After a while, Jo, the lady whom I had talked to through email, came out and, here we go. Jo showed us around and introduced the elephants to us. Songkran, the little one, is only 6, while the oldest one is already in her 80s. She has poor eye sight and no teeth. One of our duties there was to prepare food for her.

Five elephants live together in these "barns" (what's the name for this shelter?) The leftest one is the oldest one.

Despite of her age, under the care of the foundation, she has grown so much healthier than when she just arrived. And very active too, especially when giving signals for food.

Songkran was rejected by her mother when she's born. She was brought here just in time, or she'd probably be working in the tourist industry.

She followed her caretaker Jackie into the temple to pray.

Sorry Im so bad in remembering names, but I believe her name pronounces "Rum-lok". Although she looks petite, she's already in her 40s. She used to work in a small Thai farm, and when she got injured, her owner couldn't afford the medication, so she came to the foundation. She's my favourite, not only because she's very very gentle, but also because she's small like me.

Sadly, a few months ago, someone sneaked in and cut this elephant's teeth :'(

The texture of the hair on elephant's tail is not something you imagine. You have to feel it yourself.

The girl on the right had arrived just one day before I visited. She had worked in the vineyard before she got hurt. Seems like she has made good friends with the girl next to her :D

This sad boy was abused before, so he is not really friendly to humans. He is allowed to live outside so that he does not need to deal with humans so much. They are looking for a new home for him where he can really stay away from humans and live freely.

  The older elephants can't chew properly, so food has to be specially prepared for them. They are fed on pieces of banana trees mixed with horse food. Jo's husband, Will, demonstrated to me how to chop banana trees. He did it real quick and pretty. Katherine, another volunteer, said, it's not really that easy, he just made it seem so easy. Well, in fact, it is not easy at all.
It was already the third tree I did when taking this video. I was even clumsier when I did the first two.

She likes the food :D

Apart from banana trees and horse food, these elderly elephants still need some extra help. Will taught us to hide the vitamin pills in bananas for them. You can check out the photos of the bananas in their website.
Ready to feed him the bananas. See his hungry face :P

  The last work I helped that day was to measure the elephants. Will said it's too difficult to weigh the elephants, but by measuring their waists, they can have an idea about how much they have grown/lost weights, and they take it as an indicator of the elephants' health.
Curious Songkran came over to look at her own measurements. Hey, can you actually read?

Me and my father with Will and Rum-lok. Hope to see you soon!

Hutsadin Elephant Foundation:
Hutsadin Elephant Foundation on tripadvisor

The Chinese version of this post/中文版

Other posts (in Chinese)﹕
My 1.5 days in Bangkok (1)
My 1.5 days in Bangkok (2)

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