Trooping with Tongkham Hutsadin Elephant Hospital

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Trooping with Tongkham Hutsadin Elephant Hospital
Trooping with Tongkham Hutsadin Elephant Hospital

Once in a while you have wonderful day to savour and experience. Recently, I had such a day when I had the privilege and pleasure to visit the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation here in Hua Hin. From a personnel perspective it was an experience that I will treasure for a very long time. A good friend of mine who assists as a volunteer at the foundation was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the site, which made the visit even more interesting.

I also had the good fortune to meet many elephants, get some ‘hands on’ experience and get very close to these magnificent, intelligent and fascinating beasts. The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the foundation was the feeling of peace and tranquillity. The staff’s affection and dedication towards each and every elephant was very obvious and quite inspiring.

This was quite evident, by the way they interacted with the ‘baby’ four year old Songran, and 86 year old Rhum Roi a magnificent and serene creature. It is very obvious that the care and welfare of the elephants is foremost on the minds of the staff. They receive daily basic health checks, some of whom receive regular supplementary medication, and a Veterinary surgeon visits the foundation on a monthly basis for a thorough health check. I was fascinated by how dextrous these great big animals were whilst being fed or watered and how every elephant has its unique traits and personalities.

I witnessed a mahout applying some medication to a very large male elephant and was fascinated by the mutual trust, respect and care shown between the two of them. Some of the visitor attractions include elephant treks and an elephant show that includes baby Songran painting pictures and playing ball games. Songran was rejected by her mother at birth and has been reared by humans. All Songkran’s tricks and games were taught her by reward based training.

You can also feed, water and shower the animals, who are all in excellent condition and seem to lap up the exercise, care and attention they receive from the guests. The real treat came about when I was asked whether I would like to take Tongkham, the newest member at the foundation for a walk! I didn’t need a second invitation and before I knew it I was walking in front Tongkham a three and half ton plus elephant coaxing her along with a bunch of bananas.

I was amazed that as she walked along how silent her foot steps were … in fact a lot quieter than mine or my friend’s. Her behaviour on the outbound part of the journey was exemplary, though the same could not be said of the journey back as she took a fancy to some bushes and undergrowth and was quite happy to take diversions off the trodden path from time to time. Although my friend is a particularly strong man, the site of him trying to push and shove Tongkham towards the required direction, to absolutely no avail, was a site to behold and frankly quite hilarious. We eventually got her back to the site and her reluctance to return home only served to show how she really does enjoy her walks. What an experience!

So, if you want a worthwhile and great day out, I have no hesitation in recommending a visit to the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation. All proceeds and funds are allocated to the care and welfare of the elephants. Please contact Khun Wut on 081-1990789 to make a reservation or for further information and directions. Hutsadin is located on the right hand side at the top of the hill going out of town on the Pala U road. There are 2 large Elephant statues at the entrance and a sign post to ‘Hutsadin Elephant Hospital’.

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