In this episode of The 30 Postcards Project, I was able to spend a truly magical day with one of nature's most impressive creatures, an animal whose future is unfortunately in question.
It's estimated that there could be fewer than 3,000 Thai elephants left in the wild today, and unfortunately there are many disreputable organizations in Thailand exploiting captive elephants in order to guilt travelers and tourists into parting with their money.
The complete opposite is true of the Patara Elephant Farm just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand. Patara has constructed a unique and unforgettable program for visitors known as "Elephant Owner for a Day," a pairing of one traveler with one Thai elephant which gives you the opportunity to bond one on one with the world's largest land animal.
A visitor is responsible for learning all aspects of elephant care and management so that he/she can become an advocate for the cause of Thai elephants. In this episode you'll see that not only do you care for the elephant, but it also cares for you -- these animals have a form of empathy that must be experienced first hand.
Proceeds from Patara's Elephant Owner for a Day go directly back to the breeding management and future preservation of Thai Elephants, "to produce happy elephants to live on Earth," says Pat, the owner of Patara Elephant Farm.