On Thursday the 16th of January 2020 some of the Rob’s Dogs Thailand volunteers were invited to attend the opening of the 3rd ethical elephant sanctuary on Koh Samui!

This is the second project for Samui Elephant Sanctuary, exactly two years ago they opened the first ever ethical elephant sanctuary on Samui, their work has become so well know in those two short years that they won the award for best animal welfare organisation from the tourism authority of Thailand and now they have opened a second location that lifts the bar for elephant sanctuary’s all over the world.

Located in the rolling hills of Samui just behind Chaweng Noi, the land is massive at 42 Rai (over 16 acres) the land is large enough to host up to 20 elephants with ease and comfort. The land is dotted with natural and man made pools and mud baths for the elephants to relax and bath in, as well as extensive jungle areas.

Unlike the first sanctuary where you can touch the elephants during feeding and grazing, this sanctuary is largely hands off, they have extensive viewing platforms, where you can offer the elephants some snacks, but the elephants are not compelled to come to you – if they want a snack they will come, if not they are free to roam at will. The remainder of the tour trails through the impressive grounds, with elephant viewing from a distance. Here the elephants are even closer to their natural habitat and behavior than anywhere else.

They currently have five recently rescued elephants with history’s of various horrors:

Kham Paeng is a female elephant aged around 55 years old. She was initially forced to work in a riding camp in Krabi, then moved to Phuket where there is an increased demand from tourists for elephant riding.

Kham Sing is also a beautiful female elephant, aged around 60 years old. She was rescued from Phang Nga from an elephant riding camp. Kham Sing is blind in her left eye, which appears to be a cataract.

Kham Noi, is a female elephant aged around 60 years old. She used to work as logging in Tak Province until the government banned logging in 1989. Kham Noi was then moved to work in the riding camp and was still been used right up until her day of rescue. She has clearly been worked hard and with a heavy hand! Due to her age and lack of appropriate care she has significant problems with her teeth and will need a special supplementary diet to support her recovery.

Jamie is a female aged around 50 years old and spent the majority of her life been forced to service tourists desire to ride her. She is now resting at her night shelter with a large fresh sand pile so she can lay down for the first time without chains and sleep peacefully.

The sanctuary has a lovely safe and secure sleeping area that has constant CCTV coverage to ensure the elephants are safe while they sleep.
They are currently building a dedicated elephant clinic – the first of its kind on Samui, so any elephants anywhere on Samui needing medical care will be able to come there for treatment, It will boast a 24 hour onsite elephant trained veterinarian.

It was an honor to meet the humble staff and supporters of this project – noticeably absent was Kun Lek;  Thailand’s most visible elephant welfare activist, she was however on a very important mission in Bangkok lobbying Parliament to draft stricter animal welfare laws, she never stops that woman!
I think the quote of the day came from our lovely host Kun Guitar who said “These are your elephants – we just look after them, but they belong to you all.”

This brings the total of ethical Elephant Sanctuaries on Samui to three:

Bophut & Chaweng Noi Samui Elephant Sanctuary 

Samui Elephant Haven

Many other organisations claim to be ethical – but in reality are not! They either run the “ethical” program in the morning, then the rides in the afternoon, still use bull hooks or other methods of coercion, or offer bathing which is stressful and unnatural to the elephants. Show your support by pledging to never ride an elephant and only visit truly ethical elephant sanctuaries.


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