I am looking at various elephant parks to visit while in Chaing Mai, and Elephant Nature Park or Patara seem to be the highest rating (from reviews I've read) in terms of the ethical and humane treatment of their elephants. I know both are quite pricey, however I am willing to pay a bit more to ensure the animals are well looked after and are not made to do any tricks, painting etc.
Can anyone who has been to either (or may have heard through others) let me know if they would recommend this, and which one if any?
I haven't been to either of those myself but I gathered that they are indeed two of the best in Thailand from talking to the long-term volunteers at and staff at Elephant's World in Kanchanaburi and doing some of my own research recently. So I'd guess that either would be a great choice.
I have been to ENP 4 times since 2008 and the ethos is completely about caring for the elephants, not about providing shows for the tourists! The elephants are loved and cared for and visitors will, in my opinion, get a much better experience by watching these animals behave naturally rather than watching them do tricks that they have been tortured into performing.
The founder of ENP also has an elephant project in Surin province and in N Cambodia. But the ENP at Chiang mai is very well set up for visitors. You will have a memorable time just watching the elephants and perhaps splashing with them in the river. Many elephant camps force their elephants to perform unnatural tricks and use bullhooks to control them. They are
Often malnourished in other camps as they are Not free to roam around and eat all day long as elephants do naturally.
I was at ENP for a week in October last year. It was great.
The elephants are all well treated and respected. The day is pretty evenly split between relaxation time and 'work'.
Some people have said it's too small of an area, but the place is huge. There's plenty of room for all the Ele's and no one goes hungry.
They've got a few hundred rescued dogs there too.