Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ran Tong Elephants

We rode elephants!!!  This was one of the things on my bucket list from the beginning and it could not have been better.  I know that there are mixed feelings about wether riding elephants is good or bad for the animal, but having researched and experienced I would definitely do it again under the right circumstances.  Ran Tong Save and Rescue Elephant Center was incredible!  There are more than 9,000 asian elephants in captivity in Thailand and many of them are not cared for very well.   Some are used for heavy labor such as logging, some are made to stand out on street corners to earn an income for their owners as street beggars.  Ran Tong hears of mistreated elephants, purchases them from their current owners, and rehabilitates them.  They are kind and gentle with these amazing creatures and it really shows.  They never use hooks, sticks, or those seats that are strapped to an elephants back.  Without the support of tourist funds the elephants that are rescued at Ran Tong would still be in the poor conditions that they existed in before.  Here they roam freely, under the constant watch of individual Mahouts, or elephant trainers.  Each elephant has a personal relationship with his or her mahout, the elephants exclusive best friend.
Elephants eat A LOT!  One of the biggest problems with private elephants is the amount of food required to keep one healthy, around 200 pounds per elephant per day.   
We started out by borrowing a set of clothes that we could get dirty.  Then meeting our elephants.  Just like making friends with our kids is easier if you give them a treat, we got to feed the elephants hunks of sugar cane, and they were excited.  



We learned our directional commands from the Sweedish gentleman who runs the camp and then it was time to load up.  Maggie and Max's elephant was the only one that did this trick, so fun!  The rest of us walked up a ramp and hopped on. 

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Maggie "We got to ride them bareback!  It was so cool and I felt like I was on top of the world!  The funny thing is that they have very bristly and coarse black and brown hair.  Mine was named MayLou, or at least that's how it sounds.  On our afternoon ride mine trumpeted!  It was really cool to hear."   

Eli's favorite animal is an elephant.  He was in heaven!  Jonah and I had a little bit of a harder time.  He did not appreciate the bristly hair poking his legs so he mostly sat on me.  And I spent a lot of time sitting on the shoulder area which jostles back and forth as the elephant walks.  Our girl was a gentle giant, though, Ka Moon was sweet as could be. When we were contacting RanTong to set up our tour they emailed us "Tell your kids no worry about our elephants. They are like a puppies, but just big body size."  
 


A momma and her baby were on the property as well.  Hard to believe they keep elephants behind a fence like this.  The baby was really friendly and curious.  So much fun!
Maggie "We went past a muddy part and MayLou wanted a mud bath.  Luckily she didn't spray up or we would have been in trouble!  Then if that wasn't enough we got to give them baths!  They waded into a pool and played down and then we got to throw buckets of water over them.  The water was pleasantly warm too, but there were bombs in the water after a bit, (poo).  I had a splash nonetheless!  Go MayLou!!"




Eli, "Elephants are my favorite animals.  Today I got to ride one, it felt good.  I wasn't even scared.  My favorite part was giving the elephants a bath because I threw water at Maggie and Max!"



Tessa, "Today we rode elephants.  We fed them, rode them, and went in the water with them!!!  Me and dad went on one together and I advised a guy to say peach pie to get his elephant to move and it worked!!!  There was a baby and it was cute.  We made friends with everyone with us.  I loved it!"
May 25, 2016

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