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Conservation Initiative

Conservation Initiative
04/05/2018 The Neighbourhood Vet

Two lucky members of The Neighbourhood Vet team had the fantastic opportunity to attend a conservation of their choice abroad after being selected as the prize winners of our staff initiative programme. Both Ruth and Rhiannon have given you an insight into their incredible journey…


When I tell people that I’m a veterinary nurse, they often ask me ‘what’s the strangest animal you’ve worked with?’ Now I’ve got a new answer to that question, an elephant! I was lucky enough to win this year’s conservation project competition set up by Suzanne and Amber and I had the opportunity to work at an elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre in Thailand.

Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for elephants who have been rescued from lives of suffering. Many of them were forced to carry out activities such as logging, trekking, circus entertainment, religious ceremonies and street begging. Most of the elephants that come to the sanctuary have severe injuries, as well as broken spirits. The average elephant brain is four times the size of a human’s, and so they most certainly do not forget their past. However, with the help of volunteers and a strong team of staff, Elephant Nature Park is changing the lives of hundreds of elephants. And they don’t just assist elephants. The rescue centre also rehabilitates stray dogs, cats, water buffalo, and many other native Thai creatures. 

Each elephant requires individual care to help nurse them back to health. During my stay, I met Dalah, an elephant rescued from forced breeding and logging, which had caused her to suffer from a dislocated elbow and injured foot. The vets and volunteers at the park had been working closely with her since her arrival, providing pain relief, a physiotherapy plan and laser therapy to help her muscle atrophy. Seeing the issues that she had with her legs the team built a hydrotherapy pool for her in January. She now enjoys the use of this each day, allowing her to take weight off of her sore legs and get some much-needed rest. I also volunteered in the dog shelter and cat kingdom, where a large majority of the animals were rescued from the 2011 floods in Bangkok. All the dogs were so happy to get attention and walks from the volunteers, and the cats couldn’t resist unlimited tickles.

My trip to Thailand was incredibly inspiring. Whilst I was saddened to learn about the cruel treatment many elephants still face today, I felt that I had contributed in a small way to helping the lives of these selfless beasts. If there is one thing I would pass on from this trip, it’s to always be a thoughtful traveller. Wherever you go, educate yourself on how animals are treated and kept. Next time you’re offered an elephant jungle trek or a photo next to a sleeping tiger question whether or not you want to encourage this sort of tourism.


It is safe to say that The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand is the best place on earth.

I was lucky enough to be picked out of a hat and win a trip to work at a conservation of my choice. An opportunity I never thought I would have, let alone from the women I get the privilege of working with! With my bags packed, I headed to Thailand for a trip that was about to change my life.  During my weeks stay volunteering at The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand I stayed less than 100 meters away from where the elephants slept and would be woken up to their morning chit chat every day. 

Unknowingly, the 13th March was Thai Elephant’s day. An annual celebration to promote awareness about protecting and preserving the Elephant population and its habitat. Lek, the founder of ENP was present for this and we were able to discuss with her the steps she is taking to make a change, not just to Thailand, but to wildlife around the world.


I worked hard, but it was so worth it (Cat Kingdom helped – if you know me I am one crazy cat lady). The only thing I would change would be that I had to come home – boo! With my experience and new found perspective, I can spread awareness of this brilliant charity and keep helping in any way I can to make a difference. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to support this outstanding charity. 

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