Sunday, January 7, 2018

Elephant Conservation Centre

Joe and I just spent two amazing days at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Sayaboury, about a 3 hour drive south of Luang Prabang in Laos.

It was wonderful.

We learned so much about these amazing creatures.  And were so heartbroken to learn of their mistreatment in Asia and around the world.

The Elephant Conservation Centre currently homes 11 rescued elephants.  Nine adults and two babies.

The ECC's philosophy is to bring people to the elephants, not the other way around.  We observed them playing, bathing, eating and socializing.

We followed the elephants through the forest, climbing steep hills for hours on end.  We patted them and cooed sweet nothings in their ears.  We laughed at their playful antics in the water.

Elephants are SO smart.  And funny and loving and loyal and protective.

The ECC rescues Asian elephants and also breeds them.  There are only 800 Asian elephants left in Laos.  Half are wild, the other half are domesticated.  Sadly, they are an endangered species.  The centre is petitioning the Laos government for more land so that they can rescue even more elephants living in undesirable conditions.

We left ECC humbled and grateful for this incredible experience.

The ECC is in such a beautiful part of Laos.

Home sweet home.  Our digs for the night.

Many of you know my love for sleeping outdoors.  This bamboo hut fit the bill perfectly!

Our guide, Khemphet, was knowledgeable, passionate about elephants and a real jokester.  He had us laughing the entire two days.

 Mother, auntie and baby.

 Taking a wee sip.

 "Hey, mama."

 "Hi, girl.  How're you doing?"

Periscope up!

Relaxing after a busy day hiking in the jungle.

The sun sets on Day 1.

The sun rises on Day 2.

 Mud bath!

These two gals are BFFs.

 Drinks for everybody!

 Mother and son.

Elephant spray park.

 We had to traipse across a very high, very wobbly suspension bridge to the treehouse 
observation deck.

We watched the elephants from above.

Elephants eat for 17 hours each day.

After a 3 hour hike, we followed the elephants out of the jungle.

The elephants led the way.

Happy and hot hikers.

Thank you, Elephant Conservation Centre, for teaching us so much about your country's beautiful Asian elephants.  And another big thank you to our new friend, Dr. Erica Ward, for caring for these vulnerable animals when they need it most.  

You people are my heroes.

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