Friday, September 14, 2012

A Very Unusual Experience Abroad

This summer, after studying for some time in Korea, Megan (History, 2013)  volunteered to work at Elephant Nature Park (elephantnaturepark.org) in Thailand for two weeks.  The elephants at the park were all rescued elephants who had escaped the brutality of the logging and the tourism industries.  Elephants are considered as livestock under Thai laws, and therefore are not protected, and these  elephants could not be released into the wild.

Megan says that she "worked as an elephant volunteer: I helped build fences around the park, cleaned the elephant pens (yes, shoveling elephant poop...), picked fruit in the forest, unloaded and washed large trucks of elephant food, chopped down 10-foot bamboo grass with machetes, planted trees with the hill tribe people, etc.  ...We would only feed and bathe the elephants for about an hour each day.  At the end of my first week though, I got the unique opportunity to work with a newborn (about eight hours old when it arrived) elephant", (which had been rejected by its mother).... "It was the first time the park had rescued a newborn."  She says that "it was truly a blessing to be able to work with such a precious creature."  Sadly, due to bad health (the baby didn't get it's mother's original milk and therefore had no immune system), inadequate medical care, and lack of the proper equipment, the baby died the week after Megan left. 

"Overall," Megan says, "I would say that my experience in Thailand was extraordinary.  It had its ups and downs ... but both Thailand and the elephants themselves were absolutely beautiful.  I had the time of my life."

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