The elephants have finished bathing and walking in formation they are entering the small show area. The audience, including myself and several young children, is already seated and awaiting the animals. Soon, trumpeting they start displaying their tricks, for the entertainment and education of all visitors
We are in the Thai Elephant Conservation Center near Lampang, Thailand. Among hundreds of establishments with elephants, this is considered the most authentic place in Thailand to see how those huge animals live and display their skills
There are three daily elephant shows. We are watching the first one, right after the morning bath. During the shows the elephants obey the commands of the mahouts to walk in formation, carry logs, play basketball and even paint with their trunks!
After the introduction, some are playing with each other, or alone 🙂
The shows gradually become more complex and, well, amazing. For example when a young one puts the hat on the head of the mahout
Or this one playing basketball with a visitor 🙂
The elephants have been used for millenia, in Thai and other cultures, as semi-domesticated animals for all kinds of labour. Their natural intelligence enables humans to train them and the show showcases this ancient tradition with several tasks of carrying logs around and moving them, putting them in place etc. Thai farmers have used elephants for similar jobs for millenia!
But the most amazing show is the last one : elephant painting. Some elephants are trained to PAINT, using their trunks. The announcer says this, almost no one believes it. But while the elephants get out, three empty canvases are put in the field
And yes, the elephants, begin painting. The mahoot is giving the elephant the different colors and the elephant is using his trunk to pick up and draw on the canvas
Well, the final results are not Picasso or Monet, but they are recognizable. Which other animal can paint ? These paintings are being sold in the Center’s shop with the proceeds going to fund the center and its activities such as the elephant hospital, elephant research and the elephant nursery
After the show, the visitors are able to buy bananas, cane and fruit to feed the elephants. Children are especially happy to do so. Selfies and other types of photography are of course … encouraged