A new elephant-in-the-Zoom idea is hoping to spread some Christmas cheer while raising money for conservation efforts in northern Thailand.
Anantara’s Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort has created a unique Zoom experience to give the gift of an elephant interaction this Christmas while raising money for the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF).
During the Zoom video call – hosted by Santa Claus of course – participants can ask the red-robed icon questions about the gentle giants and virtually participate in unique and once-in-a-lifetime elephant experiences.
These include the Walking With Giants signature experience, which provides an optimum way of getting to know the elephants during their daily free-roaming time, accompanied by their carers and either an elephant veterinarian or biologist, as they move around in the jungle. The activity offers insights from experts about these intelligent creatures and how they think and behave as well as interact in their native habitat.
With only a limited number of premier “trunk” call slots available during the holidays, donations start from $2,500 to see elephants on a Zoom video call for 20 minutes on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day; donations start at $200 to see an elephant on a Zoom call for 15 minutes outside of those key holiday dates.
Anantara set up the elephant camp with GTAEF in 2003, primarily to help get street-begging elephants and others that could not help themselves into a safer environment.
There are now 23 elephants living in the jungle reserve on the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, along with their entire mahout families.
Speaking more broadly about the plight of captive elephants in the country, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas’ group director of sustainability and conservation John Roberts said the almost total disappearance of tourism throughout Thailand this year continues to have a negative effect on the Kingdom’s estimated 3,800 captive elephants.
“Their carers still need to find around $20 per day just to feed their elephant, let alone their own family, and meet all their other needs – elephants consume between 6-10% of their bodyweight daily, and it costs approximately $18,000 to look after a single elephant for a year,” he said. “Since the start of the national lockdown in Thailand in March, we have taken in three elephants and their carers – these elephant refugees, whose previous camps were unable to care for them and would ultimately have left them unfriended and unfed, are now matched with friendship groups and, of course, have their own diet plan.”
Other gifting options include $20 to feed one elephant for a day; $110 to support the work of anti-poaching rangers for a week; $600 to feed one of the resort’s three-ton ellies for a month, or $18,000 to give a year’s support for one of the three elephants that have had to be rescued due to Covid-19.