Having met with Goldie a number of times over the past years, we had an idea to raise money. Goldie is a well known, multi talented musician, artist and actor. Why not ask him f he could put his talents to creating a graffiti inspired design?
Goldie was onboard straight away and came up with a fantastic design that we could print onto high quality T-Shirts, Hoodies and Sweaters and raise money to feed the elephants at Tree Tops Elephant Reserve in Phuket.
What makes Tree Tops in Phuket so special?
Tree Tops Elephant Reserve is our second ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket since 2016 and the first independent ethical elephant sanctuary in Southern Phuket.
After only opening in October 2019 Tree Tops was quickly holding the number 1 position on TripAdvisor and soon after recommended and listed by World Animal Protection as a best practice elephant venue in Thailand. A listing very few hold.
Tree Tops puts the elephant first at all times. Customers get a short feeding experience and then a peaceful walk around the sanctuary, learn about our elephants, all whilst giving the elephants space to graze, bathe naturally and walk freely around the sanctuary. You cannot bathe with elephants at Tree Tops as it is not fun for the elephants. Bathing is just the new version of riding. Bathing is just elephants being controlled in the water for human entertainment.
So what can you do to help elephants?
1. Think hard about what kind of animal attraction you are visiting in Thailand. Make sure the project puts the welfare of the animals first. If you can bathe, watch them perform in shows, ride them or wash them, then it is not putting the elephants first. Take a look at our awareness section on our website for more information.
2. By purchasing a garment from Wild&Grey, you are directly helping to feed the elephants at Tree Tops Elephant Reserve through this Covid Pandemic and spreading the world for ethical elephant tourism in Asia.
Every little really does help.
What is Sanctuary?
- Defined as 'a place of refuge or safety', a sanctuary (ethical project, or rescue centre) should be putting the welfare of their elephants first, with safety for both the elephants and the visitors of paramount importance. This means that visitors should not be offered elephant rides, shows, bathing, mud bathing, should not be allowed to hug the elephants' trunk, sit or lie on the elephants, put their hands or even their head in the elephant's mouth, and there should be no loud noisy groups or crowding around the elephants.
- The ultimate Sanctuary offers a mainly 'hands off' approach, giving the elephants their freedom to live in peace.
- Wild elephants live in the Asian rain forests or the plains of Africa, this is their natural home. Sanctuaries, rescue centers and ethical projects should be offering their captive elephants a life as close to the wild as possible, and your elephant experience should resemble this.
When is a Sanctuary not a Sanctuary?
The use of the word 'ethical' and 'sanctuary' has become very popular across Asia and can be misleading as many projects use this terminology to entice visitors.
- If your activity includes playing with baby elephants, smothering mud on an elephant, throwing buckets of water or getting in the water with the elephants, then your chosen project is not putting the elephants' welfare first. These activities are only for visitor interaction, not for the elephant.
- If mahouts (elephant handlers) are constantly shouting, controlling the elephants very closely (often with hidden nails), or pulling their ears, then you are not at an ethical project or sanctuary.
- If the mahout tells you that it is normal for the elephants to sway their heads in a bobbing motion, that they are happy and dancing, then you are not at an ethical project or sanctuary. When elephants sway their heads repetitively, this is a clear indication of stressful behaviour
What to look for
- Check the elephants' head for puncture wounds.
- Hooks are often misused by heavy handed or inexperienced mahouts. Nails hidden in a closed fist are also common, causing bloodied wounds.
- Make sure there is enough food for the elephant. Have a look at the elephants stabling area.
- Can you see any grass or fodder? Elephants in the wild forage for up to 20 hrs a day. Captive elephants should have access to clean fresh grass in a clean stable. Often food is thrown on the floor where the elephants also urinate and defecate, which they are obviously unable to eat. There should be an ample supply of food, so check to see if this is readily available.
- Check the elephants have access to water and shade from the sun.
- Elephants suffer if exposed to too much sun and need up to 100 litres of water each day. In the wild, elephants would naturally shelter under trees in the hottest part of the day.
- Check to see if the elephant enclosure is clean. Can you see dung in their stable or is there a strong smell of urine?
- Dung should be collected and disposed of, urine regularly washed away. Elephants, like all animals, like to be clean. This is also vital for preventing the spread of disease.
- Look at the elephants’ disposition. Is the elephant flapping its ears and swinging its tail?
- A healthy elephant is constantly moving. They flap their ears to cool themselves down and swish their tail to keep flies away. If an elephant isn’t moving it is an indicator of ill health or sickness.
- Is the elephant swaying frantically from side to side?
- Elephants that have been chained for many hours and unable to walk freely often show signs of stereotypical behaviour. They rock from side to side, back and forth, sometimes swinging their legs in a very distressing manner. This is an indicator of stress, boredom and a lack of environmental enrichment.
- Check the elephants’ dung.
- The dung of a healthy elephant looks like large round solid lumps. They defecate between 6-8 balls each time. If the faeces is runny (diahorrea) the elephant is almost guaranteed to be sick and definitely should not be working.
- Is the elephant on a short chain?
- Are both front feet chained? When not giving rides, elephants are often on short chains. As explained above, this leads to boredom and stereotypical behaviour
Please support our work to help protect the Asian Elephants in Tourism.
Purchase a garment from Wild&Grey Clothing, spread the awareness and show your friends and family how to see animals ethically. And finally, don't leave your morals at home.