HUG ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
Hug Elephant was founded in September 2015 by Mr. Sawat Pansiri, Miss Nattarika Toonkeaw and Miss Nisachon Jaipang. The founders have acknowledged the importance of the Thai elephants and realized that the number of the elephants in Thailand has been decreased rapidly. The founders have worked in tourism industry for 25 years, recognizing the changes in the industry both loss and the opportunity in the same time.
The elephants have been revered in Thailand for centuries. Thai people and the elephants work and live together both in peace and in the battle. Therefore, elephant is the national animal of Thailand.
In the colonization period, the elephants had been changed from the elephant fighting in the battle to the workers in the forest for the forestry industry.
At the present, the government stopped the forest concession that affect to the unemployment. However, it is a great opportunity for our big friends to stop working in the dangerous work and start a new life.
There were 100,000 elephants in 1850 but now there are only 2,700 domesticated elephants in Thailand and 95% percent of them are owned by the private sector. For the wild elephants, it is difficult to count in number but it is predicted as 2,000-3,000 elephants by the elephant specialists.
The founders established Hug Elephant as a small sanctuary to improve the quality of care given to elephants with morality. The elephants live happily with the local people and community.
Accurate care given – focusing on the precise training
Preserve the forest – taking care of both the elephants and the forest.
Happy elephants – letting the elephants live freely
Look after the elephants and the visitors – emphasizing on the safety as a priority.
Trekking with the elephants - allowing the elephants to exercise and spending time with the elephant lovers.
Initially, Hug Elephant have discussed to the elephant care takers who are Karen. They are interested in bringing their elephants to join in this project because this project focuses in the elephants’ quality of life rather than the commercial. The income from the visitors and participants is divided into 2 parts, 50% is for elephants’ food and care takers and another 50% is for the management which are lunch, transportation, maintenance, and salary for the employees. There are 6 elephants but sometimes the visitors will meet only 2-4 elephants, depending on the readiness of the elephants. We allow only 1-2 groups to visit the sanctuary per day with 12 people as a maximum. The visitors can enjoy seeing the elephants’ behave and playing with them closely. There is no elephant show and elephant riding because we do not use the hook with them. However, the elephant care takers will carry hook for self-defense in case of elephant’s attack to the visitors because no one can stop the elephant even the elephant. Hug Elephant use a small chain when the care takers are away to limit territory of each elephant not to enter to agriculture area of the local.
In addition, Hug Elephant pay attention to the elephants’ health and the quality of life. We provide enough food for them each day by planting the hay and buying the agricultural products from the nearby communities. We use many kinds of herbs as a medicine for the elephants and we also have veterinarians to look after them.
Although Hug Elephant is a small elephant sanctuary operated by the local people, it is a small step to save the elephants’ life and improve the quality of life of the community. Hug Elephant carries forward the accurate, appropriate and moral information and management.
Hug Elephant works hard to balance between offering the worthy experience to the participants and sharing the love to the elephants, elephants’ care takers, the community, the environment and the forest. The participants will enjoy the love from the elephants and they can return their love to the elephants and the community.