My favourite day in my favourite country of Southeast Asia involved elephants – my favourite animal. The elephant I spent the morning with in Luang Prabang was named Chocolate, and she was 45 years old. Elephants are such giant, but gentle animals. I have always admired them, hence this experience being the one I was looking forward to the most.
Elephants are so beautiful and intelligent. I also like to think they have a sense of humour. I wanted to feed Chocolate as a reward for carting me through the thick, green jungle. I bought bunches of bananas and some stalks of sugar cane. I ripped the bananas off one by one, and slowly peeled the skin off each banana before handing it to Chocolate. It was just instinct – how I would normally eat a banana!
Eventually, losing patience at my incompetence, Chocolate reached out her trunk and picked up the big heap of banana peels that I had collected and thrust them all into her mouth in one shot. Observing this and remembering that elephants obviously do not need their food diced, chopped, or peeled, I handed her a big bunch of bananas that she eagerly placed whole into her mouth. I couldn’t stop laughing as Chocolate flapped her big ears against my body and tickled my arm with her vacuum-like trunk. I can’t even recall how she consumed the tall stalks of sugar cane so fast.
I wanted to make sure that the company was a trustworthy one before I had even left on my trip. I called several times to ask questions in order to ensure I would not witness any unkind or cruel methods of care for the elephants.
I am very happy to say that I witnessed nothing but genuine care for the elephants from the handlers. They would give the elephants lots of pats, kisses, and would splash them with water to help them cool off under the sun. The elephants also really looked to be in healthy condition. I examined the ears and head while I was up close sitting around Chocolate’s neck. She appeared to have no cuts or scrapes, which I was so relieved to discover since I have read countless horrifying blog posts about visiting unethical elephant rescue centres.
I recommend a visit to Elephant Village when visiting Luang Prabang. The elephants are treated with care and the funds go back into the local community as well as towards the continued care for the elephants.