Thai elephant venue reopens without the cruelty

19 June 2019

With help from us and some leading travel companies, ChangChill – formerly Happy Elephant Valley – has become elephant-friendly and stopped visitors directly interacting with its elephants

ChangChill, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, started its journey towards becoming truly elephant-friendly in 2017. Now it’s reopened its doors, offering a better life for elephants and a unique experience for visitors.

The transition allows the six resident female elephants the freedom to roam the valley, graze, and bathe in the river, mud and dust, while socialising with each other.

Visitors are no longer able to ride, bathe or directly feed the elephants, which are cruel activities.

Instead, they can admire the elephants expressing their natural behaviour, including from the new observation deck overlooking the venue’s valley.

The elephants choose what they want to do at their own pace and in their own time.

An elephant grazing at ChangChill elephant venue in Thailand - World Animal Protection - Wildlife. Not entertainers

An elephant grazing at ChangChill

There’s nothing better than seeing elephants just be elephants, so visitors are by no means missing out.

A collaborative journey

ChangChill stopped allowing tourists to ride its elephants after we, along with travel industry leaders, let its owners know tourists are becoming less accepting of activities that allow direct contact with wildlife.

In 2017, we presented a business case to a group of around fifteen Thai elephant camps, including ChangChill under its previous name.

We demonstrated a growing demand for observation only elephant-friendly tourism and told them we were ready to support venues that put the needs of elephants at their heart.

An elephant-friendly future

This is the first of hopefully many elephant camps in Thailand, and beyond, to move from elephant riding to an observation only elephant venue.

The goal is to inspire other elephant camps to replicate this model and help meet the growing demand from travellers for responsible travel experiences.

Thousands of elephants still live in unacceptable, captive conditions in Thailand and elsewhere. They endure harsh training regimes to become submissive enough to carry tourists on their back and perform tricks.

Thanks to travel industry leaders

ChangChill’s transition is thanks to the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism, which includes; TUI Group and the TUI Care Foundation, Intrepid Group, The Travel Corporation, G Adventures, DER Touristik Group, Thomas Cook Group, QYER, EXO Travel, among others.

226 travel companies have already committed to stop selling and promoting cruel elephant entertainment.

Visitors are no longer able to ride, bathe or directly feed the elephants, which are cruel activities.

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