Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Elephants, Elephants Everywhere!

As everyone knows by now, Amelia loves elephants or "chang" (as they are called in Thai) and on Monday she got to see a lot of the big, gentle creatures up close and personal. We traveled to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, part of the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, which is a city about an hour away. It's a beautiful drive through the rolling hills of Northern Thailand and it was a sunny, clear morning before the heat of the day descended and when the clouds were still low enough to cover the mountain tops.

When we first got there, we fed the elephants banana and sugar cane, the first of many times we fed them that day. Amelia liked the idea of it, but when it came time to actually put the food in the elephant's trunk, she squirmed away. She did NOT like being so close to the trunks!

Next, we watched the elephants take a bath and Amelia thought that was funny, especially when their mahouts dunked their heads under water. She liked seeing the elephants get wet, too. And on their way out of the water, one of the BIG elephants sprayed us with its trunk! We didn't get too wet and Amelia LOVES telling the story about what the elephant after its bath. But she still didn't want to get too close for pictures. (That's why she's pointing at the ground, wanting to get DOWN in one of the pictures where I'm holding her.)

After the bath was the elephant show, during which the elephants demonstrate all the skills they have such as rolling logs, showing off how they sleep and even painting pictures. The show was a bit long for a toddler and she didn't want to sit still very much, preferring to wander around and look at everyone's shoes. She loves shoes. Even when there are elephants around.

There's also an elephant hospital at the conservation center where vets treat elephants with severe injuries. Some of the elephants are pretty badly hurt from stepping on land mines planted in the border regions (which I'm pretty sure is a illegal.) A few months ago, one elephant at this very hospial was fitted with a prosthetic leg - the first of its kind in the world for an elephant. We rode by the hospital but didn't walk around it because I was afraid Amelia would be upset to see elephants with big "boo boos."

After a little lunch, we did some shopping and Amelia picked out this elephant hat, which she loves wearing. She was so worn out from our elephant adventure that she fell asleep before we even left the parking lot to head home. It was a great day and Amelia will tell you all about it when she sees you again!

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