Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary work hard to rescue elephants from tourism, return them to the forest and educate our community on sustainable tourism
Our sanctuary is run by Kindred Spirit Elephant Foundation, a registered NGO in Thailand. We opened our doors in May 2016, with the aim to bring as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat and, at the same time, to work on educating both the public and the locals about elephant treatment and try to combat illegal trade. We, at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, are passionate about elephant welfare and want our elephants to live their lives as naturally and with as little human influence as possible. We do not promote elephant rides or any form of elephant performance.
We also work very closely with the community of our village where the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is located. We provide an income for our community by creating homestays for the volunteers to stay in, renting land and creating jobs for the locals. We give back to our wonderful community by teaching English at the school, to the families of the homestays and to the mahouts.
Our elephants have been taken from a life of inadequate health care, poor diet, exhaustion and entertaining tourists; they were unable to just be elephants. We brought these wonderful creatures back to their natural environment where they are living in semi-wild conditions, free to roam as much as possible and live their lives how they choose to – interacting and foraging. We plan to bring elephants of all ages and sizes home to the forest, but we need your help.
There are more than 4,000 captive elephants in Thailand, most of who are living in inadequate conditions with incorrect care and lack of freedom. Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary recognises that this is not the right environment for elephants, which is why we are working towards bringing as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat as well as raising awareness about the captive elephant situation. We work alongside our elephant owners, our community and other organisations to try to bring about a brighter future for all captive elephants.
Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary needs visitors and volunteers on the ground to help us carry out research on our elephants' natural behaviours, perform health checks on the elephants and teach English to our community. Joining us can provide valuable in-field research experience, teaching experience and the opportunity to live abroad immersed into another culture.
We currently have 4 resident elephants with us at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, but with volunteer funds and donations, we hope to return more elephants to the forest soon. We have 3 generations in our elephant family, have a look at their stories below and sponsor our elephants if you want to contribute to keeping them in the forest.
Too Meh is our oldest elephant. She is 55 years old and spent her younger days working in the logging industry. When logging was banned in 1989, she was brought to work in the tourist camps where she spent her life entertaining tourists. She spent about 20 years giving elephant rides with a howdah, the iron saddle that is put on their back to carry tourists and gives many elephants back problems. In between elephant rides, she was chained up with very little social interaction time. She has suffered for over 50 years, until now. She is now free to spend her days in the forest, roaming, foraging and interacting with her daughter & grand-son.
Mae Doom is in her early 20s, is the daughter of Too Meh & auntie of Gen Thong. She has spent her life entertaining tourists and was rescued from a camp where she was giving bareback elephant rides. This camp did not recieve alot of customers and sometimes days would go by with no tourists visiting. This meant that Mae Doom would spend days on end chained in the camp, having no social interaction with the other elephants and spending very little time in her natural environment. Now that she resides at KS Elephant Sanctuary, she has finally been reunited with her mother and nephew and has the freedom to learn from her and walk through the forest as she pleases.
Gen Thong is our youngest elephant at 4 years old. Gen Thong has had an even more traumatising childhood than most captive elephants. He tragically lost his mother at the age of 2. His mother was chained to a tree below a wasp nest in the tourist camp and was not being watched carefully. The wasp nest fell on her head and stung her many times. Gen Thong was with her, however being so young he was not chained and was able to run away from the wasps unharmed. His mother was not so lucky and sadly passed away due to the poisons of the wasp stings. He then spent a few months under the care of Too Meh, his grandmother, but was then separated from her to undergo his training. After he returned to the elephant camp, he spent his days on a chain being fed bananas by tourists and giving elephant rides. He has now returned to the forest where he lives out his days learning the natural behaviours from his auntie, grandmother and best friend Boon Rott. We couldn’t be more pleased to have him here at KS Elephant Sanctuary.
Boon Rott is a 10 year old male elephant, who has also lived his life in tourist camps giving rides and performing tricks. When he was born, he was malnutritioned as his mother was unable to produce enough milk. His mother had given birth a few times but Boon Rott was the first of her offspring to survive, due to the combination of her care and their hard working mahouts. Boon Rott has always been highly saught after by many of the tourist camps in the Chiang Mai area because of his high intelligence and ability to perform - some camps using this to exploit him. He is now able to roam free in the forest, not being forced into any un-natural behaviours.
If you want to have a unique experience of hiking in the forest to find the elephants everyday and observe their natural behaviours in their home environment, then you have found the right place. Come and join Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary for the experience of a lifetime. Volunteers and visitors must be physically fit to hike everyday up and down mountains to get to the elephants. In our sanctuary, you can see exactly where your funds and going and how they are benefiting our sanctuary, our elephants and our community.
Volunteers and visitors are expected to wake up early in the morning and be prepared for a long hike into the forest. Hikes will usually return to the village around early afternoon but the day doesn’t end there. Volunteers and visitors will have the opportunity to participate in teaching English at the school, to the homestays and to the mahouts as well receiving education about elephants in Asia and learning the local tribal language and culture. We also have a number of add-ons you can choose such as relaxing with a thai massage or learning how to basket weave.
Visitors and Volunteers can stay with us for anything from 3 days to 3 months. Although Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary recommends at least a week to get the full experience of our sanctuary. Students who wish to carry out research for their studies are also welcome.
Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary has created an alternative to elephant tourism that will benefit all. Our elephants can live as natural a life as possible whilst our community can gain an income from homestays, cooking and driving. The mahouts are able to return home and live with their families instead of having to work in the tourist camps to provide money for their family. Furthermore, they are offered alternate jobs to continously be able to provide for their families.