Elephant Retirement Park

Elephant Retirement Park

They say elephants never forget. It seems like I will never forget this day, too.

My first day in Chiang Mai consisted of hot, sunny weather. The warmth of the sun gently kissed our skin, creating a special atmosphere as we strolled around the park.

The day of my visit, April 5, happened to be Lanna the elephant’s third birthday celebration. Nestled about 45 minutes away from the city center is where you’ll find the Elephant Retirement Park, the home of Lanna and five other free-to-roam elephants who warmly greet guests day in, day out.

Here, guests are able to feed the elephants bananas and a hard-pressed meal consisting of sugar cane, banana, and sweet potatoes wrapped in banana leaves, specially prepared by the staff. After eating, it’s time to bathe and play with the elephants in the mud.

What follows is a special kind of party. With a flower garland around her neck, Lanna stood in the middle as we sang her a happy birthday—perhaps a bit out of tune, but still enjoyable to listen to, hopefully. In front of her was a feast: a table full of corn cobs, watermelons, pineapples, and bananas, which she munched on slowly and giddily, her ears and tail wagging from side to side. That moment was nothing but pure bliss for us visitors. Soon after, other elephant party guests started joining Lanna in her feast. It was such a sight to behold.

At the end of our visit, we speculated that perhaps this is why elephants have such good memories. They absorb all the good and radiate it to the world tenfold, or even more. These gentle giants deserve nothing but kindness and love, as if they’ve found a new family.

Tip: Say ‘Bonsung’  while feeding the elephant. It means ‘open your mouth’.

Elephant Retirement Park

Elephant Retirement Park

Elephant Retirement Park

Elephant Retirement ParkElephant Retirement ParkElephant Retirement ParkElephant Retirement Park

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