Ever wanted to get up close to elephants? Yet seeing them in the distance at a National Park just did not do it for you? Or perhaps you have ethical issues with trekking on, riding, petting or feeding, captive elephants? Well, we recently visited a place where you can spend a day amongst the elephants (wash their back even) without the usual ethical concerns. We’re talking about the Wildlife Rescue Centre and Elephant Refuge operated by The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT).
Located just 50 or so kilometres north-west of Hua Hin near the village of Tha Mai Ruak in the Phetchaburi region, it’s a simple one hour drive (or even closer from Cha-am) and is a fantastic day trip. Or at least that was our experience.
What is Wildlife Rescue Centre and Elephant Refuge?
Since it’s inception, the centre has rescued over 5,000 wild animals and provides full-time care for almost 1200 animals. The majority of these animals have been abused and exploited for profit and human gratification. This animal mistreatment often takes place in the tourist industry. For example, photos with ‘wild’ animals (e.g. infamous Tiger Temple), animals performing in degrading shows, as well as elephant rides, elephants camps and shows, and elephant trekking. Additionally, there is still a thriving illegal trade in wild animals for pets and medicine, with most of these animals taken unlawfully from their natural habitat.
WFFT was founded in 2001 by Edwin Wiek with the help of the local people from Phetchaburi province, including the Abbot of Wat Khao Look Chang who donated a large parcel of land so the centre could be established. The centre has expanded its local land footprint over time with the acquisition of neighbouring properties thus allowing for an enlargement of facilities including a new state of the art elephant hospital. In recent time WFFT has extended into Laos where they now operate another world-class animal rescue centre. Learn more about WFFT here. Read more of this post