Thursday, 6 September 2012

Elephant Extravaganza

We finally got a reliable car so we decided to visit the Elephant Sanctuary.  It was such a great day.

Vicki had been wanting to visit the elephant sanctuary the whole first week she was here, but we didn't have a car yet.  Up until this point we did a whole lot of sitting around and playing with Jaxson.  Don't get me wrong, we love playing with Jaxson, but he's no elephant.  We went on a Saturday and I was able to pick up the car on the Friday before.  After I picked up the car, I did some research online and called the sanctuary to make sure I had all the details together.  I asked them when we should come and they said around 12 noon because all the activities start around 1:30PM.  

Kristy heard from some other teachers that you should be there early.  We decided to head out around 9:30AM or so in order to be at the elephant sanctuary around 11AM.  It was such a nice drive.

We knew we were getting close because there was also a deer park nearby and the sign said "Deerland"

We arrived around 11AM and I went inside to talk to the registration desk.  I found out ahead of time that I would be encouraged to give a donation so I had cash ready to hand over.  To my dismay, I was told that the tickets that enabled you to ride the elephants were already sold out and that people come around 8AM to get tickets.  This is not what I was told on the phone.  We were even earlier than they said we should be.  Fortunately, the nice man at the desk informed me that if I really, REALLY wanted to ride the elephants, I could ask nicely when I made my donation and they might give me one of the riding tickets.  I asked another man who was taking the donations if I could have one for "the baby".  He said, "maybe one for the baby...Okay maybe two for you".  I was happy just to have one and he let me have two.  He must have really liked my donation.  

So I proudly brought the two YELLOW (riding) tickets back to Vicki and Kristy even though they were supposed to be sold out.  I was stuck with the ORANGE (non-riding) ticket, but I didn't mind.  I thought it would be fun to see Vicki and Kristy ride anyways.  While I was inside, the guy at the registration desk told me about the guides who worked for the sanctuary.  It was an extra RM50 (16 USD) so I decided to go for it.  It ended up being one of the best 50 ringgit I've spent.  If anyone reading this visits the sanctuary in the future, you should definitely spring for the guide.

We walked outside and met our guide Saiful.  He was so nice and helpful and even offered to push Jaxson's stroller.

The facilities were really kept up nicely.  The place looked very clean and well cared for.

Jaxson stopped to smell a flower

One of the benefits of getting a guide is that you get to go out behind the regular exhibit into the jungle where some baby elephants live.  These babies have been rescued from nearby towns where they were sure to get killed for interfering with the farmers crops.  

This is the jungle area where the baby elephants are kept.  They were kept on chains, but the alternative is that they go out into the jungle and possibly get killed by farmers or large animals

This baby elephant had her leg stuck in a trap that wasn't meant for her, so she ended up at the sanctuary

Saiful brought out some peanuts for us to feed to the elephants

Kristy and Vicki loved the baby elephants.  They were having the time of their lives

Jaxson, as always, wasn't sure about the weird animals that mommy and daddy make him touch all the time.  The trunk freaked him out a little.

Here is a video of the first elephant

This was the second elephant we saw and it was Vicki's favorite

She had so much personality

This is how you feed them:  Raise your arm by their head so they lift their trunk...

...put in a peanut...

...and they eat it up!

Family picture by the elephant

This is the third elephant we saw.  She wasn't as friendly as the others and wasn't concerned with us once we ran out of peanuts.  Her tail was bitten by a tiger.  Can you believe that?  A tiger!

After we saw the three baby elephants in the jungle, we headed out to the cafe to get some local rice and noodles.  I really liked the noodles and Vicki enjoyed her local rice.  After lunch, we headed over to the registration area because they had a video to show everyone.  The video was a documentary about the elephants at the sanctuary.  They said that the adult elephants there were used as working elephants to guide relocated elephants to safety.  The elephants were being relocated because they were destroying palm tree crops nearby.  The farmers didn't want to harm the elephants, but the also didn't want to miss out on all of the palm oil money, so they hired a group to relocate the elephants.  On their journey, the elephants can become very scared, so they use the working elephants from the sanctuary to guide the scared elephants to where they need to be.  It was very interesting.

This was a lot of fun.  Our guide, Saiful, asked me to come back and cut the papaya for the elephants with some rusty knives.  It was great.

Next, they brought out the adult working elephants and displayed their training

Kristy fed the large elephants with the papaya.  She was already a pro from feeding the babies.

While we were feeding the elephants, Saiful held our place in line to ride the elephants.  Saiful also found an extra YELLOW ticket so I could ride the elephants too.  They do not seem to be over-worked and they only allow 100 people a day to ride them.  The elephants don't seem to mind either.
Kristy and Vicki riding

Jaxson and I riding

After the rides, they brought two baby elephants out for bath time.

This is another part of the activities that people have said they don't like.  I didn't see it that way.  The baby elephants seemed to enjoy the time in the water and the attention from all the people.

Like I said before...Kristy was in heaven

Another family picture in the river

Me and our guide, Saiful.  Yes, I know I look like a TN redneck in this shirt, but I don't care.  It was this or wet clothes.

That was such a great day.  Jaxson wasn't too excited for the hour and a half trip back home, but it was worth the trip.  We all had a great time and I recommend the Elephant Sanctuary for anyone who comes to visit.

~Until next time~

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