elephant sanctuary thailand


Stolen from the wild, baby elephants are beaten into human submission to prepare them for the tourism industry. 

Elephant tourism is fueling “cruelty” with people wanting selfies riding, washing or hugging elephants. Ignorance, politics, and tribalism have played key roles of abuse in the tourism industry. Elephants have become a symbol of tourism, most notably in Southeast Asia.

There is no such thing as a good elephant ride,  a good circus, or good elephant art. It’s all for one reason – profit.

The damage to an elephant begins before anyone climbs onto its weak spine. To capture wild elephants, poachers lure them into a corridor where they fall into a pit often injuring or causing death to an elephant. Poachers kill the protective members of the herd for easier access to the babies. A healthy calf sells for USD $33,000.

Once in captivity, an archaic tradition named the Phajaan is used to ‘break the spirit’ of the calf. Repeatedly burned, beaten and stabbed, calves are deprived of food and sleep for 7 days until their will to live is lost.

elephant rides Thailand


Elephants are large and strong, but they are not built to carry weight on their backs. Instead of smooth, round spinal disks, elephants have sharp bony protrusions. Carrying just one adult on its back can cause the elephant pain and over time crippling.

thailand phajaan


Phajaan translates ‘the breaking of the spirit.’ It is divorcing the spirit from the body of the baby elephant.

Elephants endure an intense week of physical and mental torture. The process begins by stealing a baby elephant from its mother. The young calf is shackled, bound, or tied while simultaneously starved, beaten, and burned.

Half of the calves won’t survive the Phajaan.

phajaan elephant
captured elephant

There is no humane way to train any elephant, African or Asian.


  • Never ride, sit, or stand on an elephant.
  • Every elephant used for tourism has experienced the ‘crush’.
  • Elephants don’t want you on their backs or to be bathed.
  • Elephants are abused to perform tricks or paint.
  • There is no humane way to train an elephant.
  • The abuse happens out of sight.


This shift is celebrated by conscience travelers who are choosing to behold the splendor of happy, wholesome elephants by appreciating them in their natural habitat.

elephant riding thailand

The “bullhook”, which elephants remember from their torture during the Phajaan, can immediately strike fear in them.

Collectively, we have failed to honor the dignity of some of the most majestic species to have ever roamed the earth.

elephant trekking

An un-ethical ‘sanctuary’

  • uses chains or confinement.
  • has elephants performing tricks or painting.
  • uses a bullhook, stick, or sharp object.
  • allows riding or sitting of any kind.
  • advertises shows or unnatural behavior.
  • allows tourists to bathe elephants.
  • has breeding programs.

At an accredited sanctuary, climbing on an elephant’s back is forbidden. Elephants should roam freely and are not forced to do anything unnatural. There is no force, use of hooks or hitting the elephants.


Elephant Nature Park
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES)
Asian Elephant Projects
Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary (BEES)
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Paklok
The Surin Project
Mahouts Elephant Foundation

The Elephant Sanctuary

Wildlife Alliance
The Mondulkiri Project
Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary
Elephant Valley Project

Elephant Conservation and Care Center

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary

South Africa
Space for Elephants Foundation

Global Sanctuary for Elephants


There are no known ethical elephant parks in Bali.
Mason Elephant Park and Lodge
Taro Elephant Sanctuary

Patara Elephant Farm
Mason Elephant Park and Lodge
Taro Elephant Sanctuary
Baanchang Elephant Park
Elephant Mahout Project
Thai Elephant Home
Chiang Dao Elephant Camp
Elephant Stay
Thai Elephant Conservation Center
Surin Elephant Round-up
Anantara Golden Triangle Camp
Pattaya Elephant Village

South Africa
Knysna Elephant Park

Hill Country Elephant Preserve

elephant sanctuary