This rescue centre is set in stunning forested surroundings and does a stellar job of caring for previously abused wild animals. If you want to help provide a positive future for these animals, then choose to visit the Wildlife Friends of Thailand centre for a day tour (you can also stay longer as a volunteer), rather than being roped into one of the numerous other tourist excursions that involve performing elephants, monekys and other animals - wild animals will only perform is they've been beaten into submission.
Aside from this being a great centre in terms of the care (and space) it gives to the animals, it's a fabulous day out - one of the best of my trip! They send a comfortable minibus to collect you, give you an educational talk about what the centre aims to do, and walk you around where hundreds of animals are living in peace. My guide was Tanya, who has not only studied animal behaviour, but also clearly loves what she does and knows the histories of all the animals. Some of their stories are powerfully upsetting, but the joyful part is seeing that the animals are clearly now recovering. (And they have such great personalities!)
There are monkeys, gibbons, elephants, an otter, and some random creatures that you wouldn't expect to see. The elephants are mostly reached in a 4WD, but a couple of them will join you for a walk! No animal in the centre is made to do anything it doesn't want to, and the elephants only join you for a walk if they want to eat the fruit you're carrying - it's a true priviledge to have an elephant choose to walk with you. And then you get to give your elephant a shower, which they clearly love. A far more moving experience than sitting on a poor elephant that is forced to carry tourists around all day.
There's gibbon release programme too, and the chance to adopt animals. You don't get to touch all the animals, but it's much more rewarding to see them allowed to live in a natural environment. And the area is beautiful. You won't see the trip promoted in local travel agencies because they only want to promote trips offering elephant riding etc, but do contact the centre directly and I know they'll do what they can to accommodate you. A tasty lunch is also included in the day tour. A seriously brilliant and different day out that will leave a lasting impact on you.
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