Sunday, January 11, 2009

Elephant Training 101

So... you've always wanted to train an elephant? Me too! This summer I had what is probably the best experience of my life at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang, Thailand. It was AMAZING. I'm serious when I say I think about my beautiful Wanalee everyday. Here is a little bit of what I learned:

First, the most common way I got on top of Wanalee was to give the command, "Song Soong". This made Wanalee lift and bend her leg, so I could put my foot on it, grab her ear, and pull myself up. Believe me, this was hard, especially since my shoes were often wet and slippery. M. actually dislocated his shoulder doing this once!
You can also take a running jump and hope for the best! This was so fun!

Next, if you want your elephant to walk, kick its sides gently and say "Bai" over and over again. The ride was very bumpy but by the end I was saying, "Look mom, no hands!"

Elephants like to be in water. It keeps them cool when it's hot, and it keeps them clean. They get very dirty after being in the forest because they throw mud on their backs to keep cool and to keep bugs away. Wanalee's trainer actually uses his knife to get the mud off and a huge leaf to swat at her back. Anyway, to give an elephant a bath, roll your pants up A LOT and stand up. I think I failed at that part.
Elephants are incredibly smart animals and are used to help humans do work. For example, if you drop something, you can say "Geb Bon" and they will pick it up and pass it to you.

This also works if you drop your hat.

You might now be thinking, once you're up, how do you get down? Well again, there are many ways, but I liked to bounce my feet on Wanalee's forehead and say "Tag Long" so that she would bow her head and I could slide right off!

After all this hard work, give your elephant a hug and a bunch of bananas, not just one, you silly tourists! Good work!

Thank you to Supat, who is a wonderful photographer and took all of these pictures, plus the other thousand I didn't post! Go to Thailand, just to do this, please. Book it now. You will remember it forever and want to go back a hundred more times.


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time with your precious Wanalee. You may just have to go back to Thailand some day to visit Wanalee!! I couldn't believe it when I saw all the pictures of you with the elephants.

  2. I can't even imagine how cool that must have been!

  3. i spent 10 min on an elephant at african lion safari this summer when i visited the new baby chuck, and rode a large elephant, very scary at first, felt the vertabrae on my flat butt, but was a great experience...aunt lena