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Bon Soong! - Elephant "Training" in Chiang Mai, Thailand | by cmav
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Bon Soong! - Elephant "Training" in Chiang Mai, Thailand

When I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand in November, we spent a day at this elephant training center / sanctuary. We "trained" the elephants and learned to ride them (more like they trained us to feed them bananas). After learning basic forward, backward, turn left, turn right, and stop commands, we went on a ride through the jungle. We were careful to select a place that only rode the elephants bareback, and on the neck base (riding with a wooden seat/saddle on the spine is very bad for them). Riding an elephant bareback was a lot of fun.

 

In this shot, the elephant has been given the command "Bon Soong!", which translates roughly as "raise your trunk and open your mouth and I'll give you a tasty banana". Somehow, they had no issue with following this command, and seemed to feign hearing it even when no one said anything...

 

This elephant was a young male (smaller than all the females they had there), and he was very friendly and entertaining. At the end of the day, we washed the elephants in the river - by sitting on their sides while they submerged themselves and scrubbing their backs.

 

Overall, a very cool experience.

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Taken on November 18, 2012