Our Elephants

Siam Niramit Phuket has two elephants for the guests to enjoy, feeding and taking pictures with them. We are dedicated to delivering the best care for our elephants and to learn more about how well we treat our elephants, please visit this youtube link.

We adopt the guidelines from the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG). The full guidelines can be found in this link. The key issues are shown below.

1. Why do you need to chain the elephants?

Chaining is an important part of managing elephants in a traditional hands-on system, where there are no enclosures to contain the animals. Chains are the most straightforward and SAFEST tool to confine these large animals to a specific area. Furthermore, Chains are also important for safely restraining an elephant during veterinary procedures.

Chaining elephant, if done properly and appropriately, are not harmful to the elephant. For example, we put halters on horses and leashes and neck collars on dogs to lead and manage them in a safe, humane manner.
The training tool called the Hook (a stick with curved hook at the end) is used to guide an elephant. In a free contact environment when humans are in close and unrestricted contact with elephants, the hook is used to guide and cue the elephant with the purpose of ensuring the SAFETY of both humans and elephants.

In a free contact situation, where elephants and humans share the same space, a hook should be carried at all times for safety. The hook was developed over generations to allow a mahout to get an elephant’s attention in an emergency (e.g. sudden loud noises). In any situation where an elephant may panic, the hook can be used to ensure the SAFETY of the elephant and those around her without causing damage or injury to that elephant. Not carrying a hook is dangerous for both the elephant and any people around. Likewise using an inappropriate tool, like knife or spear to bring an elephant under control can be dangerous and cause harm to the elephant.

The advantage of the hook is that it extends the reach of the arm to allow a safer way for the mahout to signal a command to an elephant.
The IUCN Red List, the international standard for categorizing species, has listed Asian Elephants (Elephas Maximus) as endangered. There are approximately 50,000 remaining Asian elephants in 13 range countries, of which approximately 60% are in India.

If we can protect existing forests, wild elephant populations are still large enough to sustain themselves.
This is a behavior known as stereotypy, which develops in response to conditions that restrict normal behaviors. They are repetitive movements that serve no obvious function. Once a stereotypy becomes established, it can be difficult to stop. It becomes a habit.

So, when an elephant is ‘dancing’ it does not mean that it is currently stressed.
In an ideal world, all elephants would be free in nature. Due to human population increases and the growing destruction of animal species habitat, the reality is that there is not enough appropriate habitat to support current wild populations of Asian Elephants, let alone reintroduce the existing population of captive elephants.

In addition to the lack of habitat, released captive born elephants can increase human elephant conflict as they are used to interacting with and are not afraid of humans. Captive elephants may carry diseases that, if contact is allowed, can potentially spread to the wild elephant populations.
In captivity, most elephants have become accustomed to people and have learned that people bring rewards, such as food treats; even some wild elephants will interact with people in return for kindness or food (though this can be very dangerous). Some elephants seem to enjoy being part of a social group, even if that group includes human. All elephants should be approached with caution and NEVER without the mahout present.
It is difficult to determine if animals are truly ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, as their emotional states are not exactly like those of humans. Even for humans, the concept of happiness is subjective and not easy to define. Still, there are certain behaviors that display a state of emotion that can be related to happiness. For example, the display of exploratory or playful behaviors is a good sign that an elephant has good welfare. Elephant may touch and comfort each other, check out what each other is eating, play during bath time, care for their calves, and vocalize a variety of greetings; these are examples of contented elephants.
Asian elephants have had a relationship with humans for some 4,000 years. Historically, elephants were used as beasts of burden, for logging, as war mounts, ceremonial animals or simply kept as status symbol.

It is now illegal to capture Asian Elephants from the wild outside exceptional conditions and with Government sanction. As a result, elephants are now being bred in captivity to maintain captive populations. However, illegal capturing and trading of wild elephants is still ongoing, which is why laws and regulations regarding registration, trade and sale of captive elephants are so important to ensure these practices do not continue.