On a trip to Thailand last year, we were told that Elephant riding is the tourist attraction one must tick off their bucket list. As an animal lover, I was sure I would never want to contribute towards using animals for entertainment, but as we were speaking to the guide, something else caught my eye. I found a brochure hiding in the corner on doing a day's trip with rescued elephants of Phuket, and I knew exactly how I wanted to spend my day.
A few kilometers away from the main city, we visited Kalim Elephant Care. That's where I met Michael, the mighty baby.
Michael was not more than a year old and the innocence reflected in the way he loved interacting with his new friends and even when we spoke to him, it was all about giving and taking affection.
I greeted him with a warm hello and he couldn't stop giggling in excitement of starting a conversation with someone new. He lifted his trunk in response and let out a trumpet only to say, Hey! I am hungry!
His handlers, immediately picked up the message and asked us to feed Michael some bottled milk to make him happy. It was wonderful to see how these small-town handlers, who probably don't even speak any other language fluently except their own, could easily connect with the elephants and decipher what exactly they wish to say. And here we so-called educated humans struggle to believe in the power of telepathic communication.
On our way to the hill, Michael shared stories from his life, about his mother going through immense suffering as a riding elephant, being chained for over 24 hours without food or water. He continued saying how he has grown up here at the rescue centre and the life he has seen is so hopeful and fun, where he gets to meet new people every day, play with them and just live it to the fullest.
I then further went on to ask him how he feels with the caregivers that work here and he couldn't be more delighted to share how he has always been the favourite one around. He knows exactly how to melt them into giving him extra food and of course, extra love and attention he believed he had all the rights to. Since they have been taking care of him ever since he was a little baby, he really did own a special place in their hearts.
We spent the rest of the day together, whether it was making the food for him, or giving him a bath, Michael was fully trained to make sure each person who visits falls in love with him right in the first go.
The reason we wanted to share the story of Michael is to simply spread awareness of how happier are the animals when they are not chained, drugged or behind bars for our fun and entertainment. While the older elephants had gone through phases in their life which caused them pain and losing their trust on humans, little Michael was all ready to have his arms open to welcome anyone who would like to experience how gentle these giants are.
At All Ears, our only wish remains that through this communication, each human being understands the importance of not supporting organisation that abuse animals, rather contribute towards the harmonious relationship of animals and humans, no chains involved.
So the next time you take a trip, I dearly hope you think of Michael and other elephants who have retained their hope on humanity to treat them better. Don't let them down, choose wisely.