Chiangmai Animal Parks

Saturday 10th Continued…..

In the afternoon, after visiting the different tribes, we went to a snake, monkey and Tiger park. There are many animal parks in Thailand. It has become a huge tourist attraction. After talking with Suriya and learning a little bit about these parks, it is really sad to hear that some of these parks do not treat the animals well at all. In fact Suriya has stopped taking his tours to the Night Safari because of bad treatment to the animals.

First we went to see the Elephants at the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Camp. Here you can go Elephant Riding and Bamboo Rafting, for about 1200 Baht (£24). The Elephants go up the River and this is followed by a bamboo raft up the river. We decided to leave this till next week.

Ruth and Paul at Chiang Dao Elephant Camp

Ruth and Paul at Chiang Dao Elephant Camp

We then went to the Snake Park. I don’t like snakes and have never touched or held one, and I never had any intention of doing so! The snake park costs 200 Baht (£4) to get in. This includes looking at the snakes and a snake show. When we got there the snakes were in the cages. We were just looking around, then one of the workers came over with a snake in his hand, and put it on my head! I was a little freaked out! I guess that’s one way of getting over your fears, being forced to!

Snake Hat

Snake Hat

We were then guided to the seating area, ready for the show. The show was packed out, consisting of just Paul and myself. We arrived just before 4.00pm; this is a great time to arrive, if you want to be the volunteer for every act! Maybe I should have come earlier!

By the end of the show I had held a Python and a Cobra. I jumped out of my seat when a snake was thrown my way! However this was only a piece of rope! Silly me falling for it! The snake park was really good fun. The show was really entertaining and definitely worth 200 Baht!

Fake smiles with a python around our neck

Fake smiles with a python around our neck

We then went to a Monkey School. This was close by to the snake park. This also cost 200 Baht (£4) to get in. The Monkeys train here. Unfortunately the Monkey’s are on chains during the day. They say this is because they can be dangerous. In the evening they are set free. We looked around at the Monkeys and then watched a small show. The Monkeys are very clever. They were able to add and subtract and remember the position of wooden numbers that were faced down. I was asked to move these numbers around and then pick 2 numbers. The monkey was able to add the 2 numbers and turn the correct number over.

I also played a game of basketball with one of the monkeys. I was asked to throw the ball 3 times into the hoop. I got one in. The monkey got all 3 in. How embarrassing to be beat by a monkey!

Our last stop of the day was Tiger Kingdom. Suriya asked us if I wanted to go into a cage with a Tiger. Without putting much thought in, we just went ahead and said yes! At this point I couldn’t really understand how this was possible.

We got to Tiger Kingdom, and there was the option to see either the small, medium or large Tigers, or the Lions. You get 15 minutes in the enclosure with them. The Medium and Big Tigers cost 320 Baht (£6.40) each. The Lion and small Tigers cost 520 Baht (£10.40) each. There are also several packages to see 2 or more. We decided to go and see the Big Tiger. This was the cheaper option, probably because most people are intimidated! We were given a number to wait for our turn. Whilst you are waiting you are free to go and look around at the other Tigers and Lions.

We had to read and sign a waiver before entering, to say that we would not hold them responsible if anything was to happen to us. Scary stuff! Also before entering the enclosure with the Tigers, we had to listen to guidelines about how to approach and handle the Tigers. We were told not to approach them from the front and not to touch their face or front paws, as they would take this as a sign of wanting to play. Their version of playing is a little too rough for us!

We met with two Tigers. We laid down with them and rubbed their bellies. I also held the tail. This is very heavy! I then held the paw of the tiger in my hand. At first I was very nervous around the Tiger, but once I became familiar I relaxed. It was a very strange experience. I certainly never imagined I would be sitting beside a Tiger!

Ruth and Paul at Tiger Kingdom

Ruth and Paul at Tiger Kingdom

Many people have asked me are the Tigers drugged or sedated. I have asked many locals, tour guides and researched on the internet to try and find out. Suriya has asked the staff at Tiger Kingdom many times, but has never managed to find out much information. From what I’ve read on the internet they don’t appear to be drugged or sedated, however I have not found enough evidence to back this. From what I could see they were treated well and had a lot of open space. They were also fed regularly. There is a lot of bad treatment to animals in Thailand, but there are also a lot of places who care well for the animals. Suriya tells me that a lot of the Elephant parks free the Elephants in the evening. I guess this is better than being trapped in a cage always!

I will write more about our time in Chiangmai Later. There is so much to write, that I am a little behind.

Ruth and Paul :)

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