17th March, Wednesday
I was picked up in Bangkok Sunday morning and driven for three hours down into the South, to Phetchaburi, where the Wildlife Friends of Thailand Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation centre is, near to Thayang, Hua-Hin and Cha-Am towns. Another girl, Chloe, was picked up at the same time as me, to be taken to do the elephant project.
We arrived at 1pm, met and shown to our rooms, I share with two others, in a fairly basic but clean room (no flushing toilet though!). Then given a tour round, and we got to see the elephants being bathed and walk with them as they are taken into the forest in the evening, where they spend the night. 3of the elephants here have been rescued from horrible conditions, and three were bought here by their mahouts to have a better quality of life. Learnt about how, as I suspected, the elephant camps and villages are very cruel (The image for this blog is what-NOT-to-do!).. in order to get the elephants under their control, the mahouts have to break their soul, in a ceremony involving 3days and nights of torture, not allowing the elephant to sleep or eat and constantly tormenting it until it gives in a does whatever they say. Sounds horrific.
So the elephants here are domestic, but have as much freedom and life as they possibly can whilst keeping them under control (they could not be set free as being domestic is all they know).. kindof bittersweet for them to be here.
So first morning, started on primates, which is what I am actually here to do! After being quite overwhelmed by the number of other volunteers here the first night, was ok, as they were all really friendly, introduced themselves etc. I was assigned to chop and prepare primate food (6veg, 2fruit for each meal, twice a day) then distribute it. Be careful.. all of the primates here were rescued, some are very traumatised and quite aggressive as a result, so they try to grab you when you put the dish down beside the cage, have to be really quick or try to distract them, at the other side of the cage to do it. On my first day I got my hand grabbed by a macaque and my hair pulled by a gibbon!
So basically spent my day doing that, then collecting and washing food bowels and refilling their water and stuff. Tuesday I was primates also, so did the same, with the extra fun of bleaching and scrubbing the food prep house, which gets done twice a week.
Everyone at the centre is lovely, such a range of nationalities and background, and ages makes it so interesting, some are here for a week, some for 6months. There are hundreds of dogs around, and they are all well fed, groomed and loved, unlike all the others I have seen in Thailand. all animals here are looked after!
Weds I got put onto Bears- so cool! There are Asiatic Black Bears and Malayan Sun Bears, have to prepare their food, clean their large enclosure (aka shovel s***) and do enrichments for them. I love the bears, they have so much character! Then also had to scrub a bear pool out- not as gross as you might imagine, I just kicked my flipflops off and waded right in!
I am constantly dirty here, everything involves getting covered in dust/food/water/bleach/you name it. I don't really care though, I am a grot. There are so many animals here, I have still only seen half of them, can spend hours watching the gibbon troupes in the large cages swinging around, they have SUCH long arms! Am learning loads and working quite hard. Only drawback is the tanning... we have to wear long shorts in the centre and cover our sholders as soon as we step outside due to thai locals being offended, so have managed to sneak in a coupe of 30mins in a sunny patch, but I'm worried... rip Imo's supertan, no more Tanimo...
This evening I am down to feed the Nocturnals (Lorises, Civets and a Binturong.. look it up!).. so looking forward to it!