Elephant Nature Park (Learning About The Asian Elephant)

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai province, Thailand is founded by Sangduen  Chailert (Lek)

“Lek” means small in Thai, but she is a force.

She came from humble beginnings, born in a small hill tribe village in Thailand. Her grandfather was a healer and a shaman who received an Elephant as payment for saving a little boys life. Lek’s love for Elephants began with “Golden One” her new Elephant companion. The villagers thought there was something magical about her connection with Golden One, as the giant allowed her to climb up her trunk and perch on top of her head.

Us with the founder, Lek

All over Asia “Phajjan” is a very old practice of breaking an Elephants spirit. Much suffering is involved. The Elephants are confined to cages, poked violently with wooden spikes, tied up with rope, and beaten until they give in. The mahouts who ride them whip them with a sharpened steel hook, drawing blood if necessary when they become rebellious.


All of this is done to domesticate the animal so if a male, he can work in illegal logging, and if female, works in tourism, giving tourists Elephant rides, painting pictures, riding bikes, and many other silly things that Elephants do not do naturally.

Elephants playing around

But Lek won Golden One’s obedience and loyalty with positive reenforcement, love, and of course bananas.


The Elephant Nature Park is Lek’s life work. There is so much love here for Elephants and all of the other animals enjoying their lives. All of the people here are so dedicated and care so much for these precious lives. We were honoured to have been a part of the healing process when we volunteered for 7 days. During those 7 days we built stone walkways around the park, picked fruit, shovelled ele poop, washed fruits and vegetables for the Elephants, and worked together with villagers planting trees for a reforestation project. We also cared for a precious newborn baby Elephant who sadly did not make it.

Caring for the Baby Ele

We are presently still with the park helping out at the dog shelter, cleaning kennels, helping with treatments and medication, taking all of the lovely dogs for walks, and generally loving our lives. We also visited a quarantine station AKA dog meat survivor refugee camp in Nakhon Phnom.

If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here.


We were lovers of animals before and never went to animal shows of any kind, but just to be here to watch these gentle giants the way they are supposed to live, and to be a part of something so important really transformed our lives.

Bath time

Lek’s goal is to one day get all of the Elephants back into the wild or at least free from bondage.

The Elephant Nature Park is a 2000 acre sanctuary in the jungle of Chiang Mai province in Thailand.

There are many Elephants here from babies to old ladies. Most have been severely abused in the breaking process, some have damaged limbs due to land mines, and others have lost their sight for refusing to work. Jokia is one of these Elephants.

Jokia was a working Elephant. She was pregnant at the time and walking up a hill with her mahout when her baby decided to arrive. She gave birth while working, and was not allowed to rescue her baby. Her baby died. Jokia refused to work after her loss. Her mahout used a sling shot to her eye forcing her to work. She became blind in one eye. The second time, Jokia was getting violent with her mahout so he stabbed her good eye. She is now fully blind.

She now lives a quiet, peaceful, loving life here at Elephant Nature Park and has made a lifelong friend in Mae Perm, a 67 year old  female Elephant.  Mae Perm acts as Jokia’s eyes leading her around the park.

Cody with the beautiful elephants

Elephants are extremely sensitive, gentle, loving, intelligent animals. They do not deserve the abuse that they have been enduring for thousands of years, nor does any other animal.

Please do not support any animal tourism in any countries that offer entertainment shows.


Animals deserve to live out their natural lives.


You can make a difference. Please do your research. Don’t go to animal shows. Do not ride Elephants. Don’t give money to begging Elephants on the streets. Write the government of Thailand urging them to stop Elephant riding. Tell them you won’t spend your money there. Tell them you want to spend your money somewhere where you can see these gorgeous creatures in their natural space.

Giselle sending love

Please visit Elephant Nature Park if you are visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It will be one of the highlights (if not the #1) highlight of your whole trip. And if you can’t make it to Asia, donate to all of the lives that count on you for survival.


They all deserve love and life.


Comments To This Entry.
  1. Lucia October 19, 2012 Reply

    That is so absolutely beautiful and sweet. I had tears well-up with
    the story of Jokia and Mae Perm. Although I already knew the story.

    Yes, opening up our eyes to what we are contributing to is a must.
    We must realizing that people are not superior to animals. Animals cannot create their own laws and are unable to protect themselves from human torture.
    It is up to us to speak for them and send out the message to government bodies to place laws, rules and regulations to protect our most dearest living beings who cause us no harm.

    I Love You two for the cause you have joined and being so awake that
    you create a disturbance in others….mainly those who are asleep.
    This is how things change and how one makes a difference. By doing something ratically different and persuading people to listen and pay attention.

    YOU GUYS ROCK!!!! much love, Mom/Lucia

  2. sue curry October 19, 2012 Reply

    Fantastic blog and great photos Giselle and Cody! The Elephant Park sounds sad but beautiful.

    • Giselle and Cody October 29, 2012 Reply

      Thank you Sue. We hope to make it to Australia to come and visit

  3. Diana Edelman October 22, 2012 Reply

    I love you two so much. Your beauty and compassion and passion are amazing. <3

  4. Tara October 22, 2012 Reply

    It is amazing what you two are doing. I love reading your blogs & seeing your photos. Beautiful work!!!

  5. Panky October 26, 2012 Reply

    awesome work guys !!

  6. Federico October 28, 2012 Reply

    Very nice photos…unfortunately I didn’t visit the park when there…

    • Giselle and Cody October 29, 2012 Reply

      Thank you. It’s too bad that you didn’t get to visit the park. Hopefully you will one day.

  7. Ayngelina October 28, 2012 Reply

    It is so so important that people write about this, I love that you are featuring this place.

  8. Erica October 29, 2012 Reply

    You guys are too cute. I love the ele pictures (and I was about to say – OMG HOW IS DIANA?!).

    We will be there one day! Just need to save the funds to get over to that side of the world!

    • Giselle and Cody October 29, 2012 Reply

      Hahaha thanks! Diana is doing fabulous! We see her every week for hang outs 🙂
      You will love it when you get here.

  9. Emily in Chile October 29, 2012 Reply

    Amazing photos! Sounds like a wonderful place.

  10. Raymond @ Man On The Lam November 2, 2012 Reply

    I actually went by this place white water rafting. At least I think it was this one. One day I will get back there!

  11. Alex November 4, 2012 Reply

    I very much want to visit this place after hearing and reading so much about it. I love reading about your passion for animals, thanks for all you do! Beautiful photos.

  12. Camels & Chocolate November 5, 2012 Reply

    That photo of you with the newborn absolutely breaks my heart. So sweet, so sad.

  13. doudoune moncler November 9, 2012 Reply

    Very good.Thanks

  14. Dale November 21, 2012 Reply

    It makes me so happy to say that i know two of the most beautiful, passionate and real people in existance!!!
    You guys are truly amazing, i love what you are doing, the world is starting to look bright again 🙂

    I hear a trip to Canada is in the making for us all 🙂 big smiley face!
    i love you guys and cannot wait to see you again.

    take care


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  17. miles holder December 6, 2013 Reply

    when i visit chiang mai i will volunteer there for a week

    • Giselle and Cody December 9, 2013 Reply

      Hey Miles,
      It is an amazing place to go and volunteer at. We had such a great time and meet so many awesome people.
      You will enjoy it very much!! 🙂

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