Thailand: My, What Big Ears You Have

7 Mar

There are two species of elephants: the Asian Elephant and the African Elephant. Yinz get one guess which ones I met while in Thailand.


Elephant crossing.

The Asian Elephant is characterized by smaller ears and (allegedly) friendlier personalities.  The two distinct species are not genetically able to crossbreed…yet. Fun fact, elephants are pregnant for two years! It takes six trimesters to cook a baby elephant!

Elephants are intelligent, sociable, and emotional; the way an elephant herd grieves, with tears and bereavement, feels relatable and humane.  Elephants are enormously (enjoy the pun) expensive to care for, feed, and maintain.  Tragically though, when kept by humans, elephants are often found in inadequate conditions and forced to make money by logging trees in brutal conditions or by being subjected to cruel training practices in the name of tourism.  To further complicate matters, there is currently not enough habitat to release all of the creatures held in captivity into the wild, nor could most of them survive out there on their own.

I know what you’re thinking: Could elephant tourism be ethical and used to off-set some of the costs of care required to maintain these incredible mammals?

Answer: Yes but, unfortunately, this is rare.  Rachel and I wanted to support an ethical sanctuary.  We did some research and chose one to visit that seemed to treat their (only) rescued elephants with kindness; balancing the needs of elephants with the needs of tourists.
Warning: Riding elephants should always be completely off limits as this does damage to their spines!


I’m talking about the (pink) elephant in the room.






“Now time for a silly one!” – My new friend


When we arrived, we got to feed dozens of elephants literally hundreds of bananas (all wrapped up, with the skin on) and tons of sugar cane (all crunchy, with the bark on).  It’s insane how much elephants eat!!  They are insatiable!  We shouldn’t say ‘eat like a pig’, we should say ‘eat like an elephant!’
Their noses are interested and inquisitive; always exploring, sniffing, actively checking things out around them, and bringing food into their mouths (while their humungous bodies stay put) — so, so curious!  It’s endearing and adorable. Elephants use their trunks to get answers while their bright eyes flash.



Nom nom nom nom nom!


Occasionally, the elephant’s nose would find me and ‘kiss’ me on the hand or neck.  This felt really good but also, simultaneously, slimy, wet, and gross.  Is it embarrassing to admit that an elephant’s kisses have given me goosebumps?!?!
I loved it.


Dirty but sweet — elephant snuggles!

Later in the day, Rachel and I went on a river-raft ride and felt like we were in National Geographic!   Elephants calmly drank and bathed, spraying water on each other as we floated by.  So beautiful.  We slept the night in the sanctuary and in the morning were awakened by elephant noses, trumpeting in the background.  It was sensational.

In conclusion, elephants are wonderful!  Spending a couple of days with them at the sanctuary, looking deep into their soulful eyes, and being around their curious personalities was fascinating and I’ve developed a further appreciation for these kind giants.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of captive elephants, here is a fantastic, worthwhile website to visit, find out more information, and donate:
Grey on gray,


4 Responses to “Thailand: My, What Big Ears You Have”

  1. Laurel Dickey November 29, 2017 at 2:50 am #

    Sammi- What fabulous photos! Especially the snuggly one. You captured the elephants’ curiosity and intelligence!

    • Sammi Travis December 7, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      Thank you!! It was easy to capture, they exude it all! love you!

  2. deekerson November 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    Can’t believe by niece beat me to the first comment on this blog chapter. 2:50am? Insane. But I agree with her. I enjoyed this episode immensely . You definitely captured the spirit of the elephant.

    • Sammi Travis December 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

      Yes, she’s quite impressive! Thank you for reading though! It’s not a race to leave the first comment (even though if it was, you lost this time). Love you!!

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