Meet Our Gentle Giants
You may not be an elephant lover when you arrive at the Golden Triangle, but you’ll undoubtedly be one by the time you leave. Once you meet our resident elephants and come to know their individual personalities, you’re sure to develop a new respect for these intelligent, sensitive creatures.
Sometimes all it takes is your first encounter with a hungry elephant, when you place a stick of sugar cane onto her thick, pink tongue. Whatever jitters or disinterest you felt before your first meeting are long gone. You’re in love, or, at the very least, smitten. As for the elephants, they’re happy to be caressed, fed and handled. After all, their journeys to the camp were painful and unfortunate.
Pang Puang Phet was brought to the local village by her owners. She’d been living in the back of a truck and made to walk the streets of local towns in the North. Her mahout (driver) sold small amounts of sugar cane to be fed back to her. She was malnourished when she arrived and ate constantly for three straight days. Now she’s fat and happy and one of the camp’s stars.
Before finding a home with us, Pang Yuki had travelled more than most humans. Born in the Northeast province of Surin, she was shipped to Japan after being separated from her mother. Still a calf, she was given the name Yuki, the Japanese word for snow. She reacted badly to the cold and within a few months was returned to Thailand. For the next three years she worked as a bar girl in Pattaya’s tourist strip, performing nightly in their cabaret until she got too big and had to find other employment. Now that she lives in camp and receives proper care, she’s healthy and happy.
Another camp favourite, Pang Bounma, was rescued from the streets. Before that she was owned by a logging company in the forests of the North, where she was savagely treated – she still bears the scars of a beaten head, pink skin around the neck and a broken ear. A mahout found her and brought her out of the jungle. But her life didn’t improve. Taken to the city, she was put in the street to prowl tourist spots while her mahout begged for money. She was in Pattaya when we found her.
It’s easy for visitors to bond with the elephants. Once they master the verbal commands – pai, meaning go; baen, meaning turn; how, meaning stop – guests are ready to ride an elephant. Pang Bounma is especially patient. She waits while her new rider makes several awkward attempts. Finally, she raises her right foreleg, stretches it out to make a step, and lets her rider climb up. While 3 metres (10 feet) may not seem very high, when you’re 3 metres high on a 3-ton animal, it can feel like Mt. Everest.
Once Pang Bounma navigates her way to the river, her rider dismounts and gives her pal a refreshing splash of water. The air is sweltering, and the stream of cool, clean water feels as good to Pang Bounma as it does to her rider.
Be sure to say hello to all these gentle giants when you visit Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. They’re here, waiting for you.