Elephant camp adjusts to new normal by removing shackles, waiving entrance fees
Chiang Mai’s Mae Sa Elephant Camp will open its doors from Monday (June 15) onwards, but will not take any admission fees. Also, no elephant rides will be offered, nor will there be any performances and elderly members of the pachyderm family will be allowed to roam free.
“We want to return freedom to the elephants, so we have stopped shackling elderly female elephants, who have been walking free since the end of 2019. This group of elephants have been transferred to a new enclosure, which we have kept as natural as possible. As for the 31 male elephants, they are still shackled but are being kept in a forested area near the camp,” the camp’s owner Anchalee Kalmapijit said.
The camp has been closed since March 23 in line with Covid-19 restrictions and has lost its daily income of around Bt200,000, most of which is spent feeding the 78 elephants, she added.
Meanwhile, all visitors will have to undergo temperature screening before being allowed in, the camp will provide hand-washing spots, require all visitors wear face masks and follow the path specified for entry and exit. Though elephant shows and trekking have been cancelled, the camp has created zones for tourists to participate in activities with the elephants. The camp will also call on visitors to help take care of the animals by making donations, eating at the coffeeshop and making purchases at the gift shop.
The camp has also set up an area for mahouts to sell merchandise or food until the tourism situation returns to normal.