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Elephant Refuge

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This center gives refuge to domesticated elephants refuge and a sustainable existence to elephants forced to work on the streets as begging tools and tourist attractions, that have been roaming the streets of Bangkok and other cities.

The Wildlife Friends of Thailand currently run a program to keep the domestic elephants off the streets of Bangkok and other big cities, and support a pilot project where wild elephants are being kept in the forest near domestic elephants.
As of September 2008, the center received a large plot of land donated by people in Australia for the elephants to live and roam around. The land plot which measures around 40,000 square meters is behind the Wildlife rescue center bordering the creek, and has been fenced and enriched to keep the elephants as happy and safe as possible.

Volunteers are wanted to help out in the future caring for these beautiful creatures in cooperation with professional mahouts!
  • Project Description

    As a volunteer at the elephant project, you will be taught everything you need to know about the care of these magnificent animals. You will work hands-on with the elephants, washing them, feeding them during the day, going out to collect food for them, walking with them into our beautiful lake to swim and cleaning their enclosure. The financial contribution you make to the center supports the costs of caring for the elephants and for your own food and accommodation.

    Approximately twice a week, the mahouts will take the volunteers on an excursion to harvest food for the elephants (typically banana trees and pineapple.) Volunteers should be prepared for hard physical work.

  • Typical Daily Schedule & Activities

    Volunteers work 6 days a week. There are two volunteer coordinators present to facilitate to the needs of the volunteers, as well as to organize the daily schedule. Working hours are generally from 06:30 to 17:00 depending upon the job the volunteers are on for the day. There are breaks for breakfast and lunch. Although every working day is different, with different tasks to carry out, there are several jobs which need to be done daily.

    06:30-08:00 - Preparation of food for the animals and feeding them, assisting with cleaning of the enclosure

    08:00-09:00 - Breakfast

    09:00 - This time can be used for meetings to explain any extra job that need to be done, raise and answer any questions and address any problems or shortcomings.

    09:30-12:00 - Pools, water rounds, big enclosure must be done before lunch at 12 noon. Any food-enrichments must also be prepared in the morning to be able to service them between 11-14:00.

    If volunteers are not involved in any of these jobs, they can get involved in any extra jobs or maintenance work on that day, such as painting, digging or shopping for animal food.

    12:00-13.00 - In the afternoon period, all other jobs should be done. These jobs are afternoon feeding and water rounds, bathe and scrub the elephants and tidy up the center. Feeding usually takes place between 14:00-16:00, sweeping at 16:30 and cleaning the center at 16:45.

    17:00 - Personal time. Trips into the village must be in groups of two or more to go to the shops, temples, or internet cafes. Volunteers are also free to go to Hua Hin or Cha Am for dinner and a taxi can be arranged.

    18:30 - Dinner. Food prepared by cooks. Volunteers are responsible for washing up their dishes after dinner, and this duty will be assigned on the Rota board along with feeding the Volunteer House dogs.

    20:00 - Personal time. You can socialise with the other volunteers, watch a film or play games (although noise must be kept down in order to not wake the gibbons!)

    The types and variety of duties will depend largely on the duration of stay of each volunteer, and number and skills of volunteers participating. Some of the work is also seasonal and dependent upon available resources on-site at the time.

    Although the work with these domesticated elephants is hands-on, we do not support the riding of elephants. Many of our rescued elephants have endured decades of backbreaking work carrying tourists in elephant camps and ‘attractions’, and the Elephant Refuge and Education center is their sanctuary, somewhere they no longer have to ‘perform’ or be treated unnaturally.


Free one day a week but not necessarily the weekend.
On your days off you can use a nearby spa resort which organises pick ups from the center, it has a nice swimming pool, Thai massage etc or go to the nearby beaches at Hua Hin and Cha am. There are also national parks nearby where trekking is possible. Days off can be coordinated, so you can spend free time with your friends.
There is a local village (10 mins walk) where volunteers can buy noodles, crisps, soda, beer fruit juices etc and there are also very good places to buy Thai food.
There are three internet cafes in the village with good facilities and there is a night market every Sunday where food, clothing and other goods can be bought.

Villkor för att resa med barn

Minimum age is 18 years old unless accommpanied by a parent, then the minimum age is 15 years old.


All volunteers stay at the accommodation at the center. The rooms are basic, shared between 3-4 people of the same gender (except when booked together). There is one dormitory room with 4 bunkbeds. All rooms have a fan. Most rooms also have an en-suite bathroom with toilet and cold shower. There are hot showers available in a communal bathroom area if needed during your stay. The rooms are cleaned weekly, however, we ask all volunteers to look after their own space and keep your personal area tidy.

There is a TV at the center where volunteers can watch DVD's and there is a room for everyone to sit and relax in at the main volunteer house. Free use of Wi-Fi is available in the Elephant Kitchen. There is also an area for smokers. The volunteers usually organize outings like going to the night market in Hua Hin once a week, as well as some trips to the national park. There is a notice board where you can sign up for activities and shared taxis.

There is an onsite laundry where volunteers change their bedding on a weekly basis for free, and they can take items of clothing, (except underwear), to be cleaned at a set price of 7 Baht per item.

There is a telephone in the office where emergency international phone calls can come in or local calls can be made. This is only for emergencies and incoming calls should only be made during working hours at the center. It is highly recommended that volunteers bring a mobile phone with them as they can purchase Thai SIM cards cheaply from the shops in the local village along with mobile phones for as little as 1000 baht.


The volunteer organisation offers different pick-up options in different locations. Your travel advisor can help you request a transfer that best fits your needs, and fill all necessary transfer information in a disclaimer form. You are then required to sign this disclaimer to agree that the information given is correct. In case you miss your pick-up, you will anyhow be charged in full. The terms and conditions are included in the template that lists the allocated pick-up times, costs and pick-up points. The template also includes the contact information for our coordinators, such as email addresses and phone numbers.

The transfer times and costs (paid locally):
Bangkok (International Suvarnabhumi Airport) between 06:00 and 14:00 - 2200 Baht
Bangkok (International Don Mueng Airport) between 06:00 and 14:00 - 2200 Baht
Bangkok (Hotel) between 09:00 and 14:00 - 2200 Baht
Cha Am between 08:00 and 16:00 - Free
Hua Hin between 10:00 and 16:00 - 700 Baht
Petchaburi between 10:00 and 16:00 - 700 Baht


Three meals a day are provided. The volunteers can prepare their own breakfast with the available food - coffee, tea, bread, jam, butter, milk, eggs and seasonal fruit are always available. If anything is empty and finished, volunteers can replace it from the communal container, or inform the house co-ordinator that more is required. Other breakfast items such as cereal, yoghurt, juice etc. can be purchased in the village, Hua Hin, Cha Am, or at the supermarket in Petchaburi. Lunch and dinner are freshly prepared by our Thai cooks, and are predominantly traditional and local Thai. However, we do also have Western cuisine nights.

At all meal times there are clearly labeled ‘meat’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ options, but special dietary requirements have to be discussed before confirming. Clean drinking water is also provided in a number of locations on site. There is a bar area where drinks like smoothies can be bought and serve alcohol 3 nights a week for volunteers who are 18+.


Peak seasons for volunteers are normally between November-February and May-August.

Ytterligare information

It is also possible to combine this Elephant Refuge project with the Wildlife Rescue center project. Both projects are based on the same site and it’s a good opportunity to experience conservation work with many different types of animals without having to change location. Please let us know if you would like a combination of the Elephant Refuge and Wildlife Rescue center projects.

Bring a head torch, work clothes and mosquito repellant.