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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Elephant in the Zoom: gift a virtual encounter with the world's largest land mammals this Christmas

Give your loved ones the chance to virtually walk with elephants in Thailand this festive season

Santa Claus taking a stroll with some of the resident elephants at Thailand's Anantara Golden Triangle. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle
Santa Claus taking a stroll with some of the resident elephants at Thailand's Anantara Golden Triangle. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle

When it comes to Christmas shopping, it's time to go big or go home.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in northern Thailand has partnered with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) to launch a larger-than-life gift service.

Recipients of the Elephant in the Zoom experience will be able to join a video call with an elephant in their natural habitat in the Thai jungles. While it’s a novel gift idea, it’ll also help support conservation efforts in the area.

Head elephant veterinarian Dr Nissa Mututanont (right) with one of the elephants that call the area around the Anantara Golden Triangle home. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle
Head elephant veterinarian Dr Nissa Mututanont (right) with one of the elephants that call the jungle around the Anantara Golden Triangle home. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle

There are a limited number of call slots available, with donations starting from $2,500. Calls will last 20 minutes and take place on Christmas Eve and Day, and New Year’s Eve and Day. All donors and gift recipients will receive a personalised e-certificate as a souvenir of their charitable contribution.

The calls will be hosted by Santa Claus himself, and participants will be able to ask questions about the animals, as well as virtually participate in one of the resort’s signature Walking With Giants experiences.

Championing daily free-roaming time, accompanied by their carers and either an elephant veterinarian or biologist, these walks provide guests with insights from scientific experts about how these intelligent creatures think, behave and interact in their native habitat.

Santa will host the Elephant in the Zoom calls and answer questions about the gentle giants. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle
Santa will host the Elephant in the Zoom calls and answer questions about the gentle giants. Courtesy Anantara Golden Triangle

Both the resort and GTAEF were set up in 2003 to help street-begging elephants and others in need. A total of 23 elephants now live in the jungle environment around the resort, on the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

A lack of tourism throughout Thailand owing to Covid-19 restrictions is having a severe impact on the country’s captive elephants, which number about 3,800, says John Roberts, group director of sustainability and conservation, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

It costs approximately $18,000 to look after a single elephant for a year

“Their carers still need to find an approximate $20 per day just to feed their elephant, let alone their own family, and meet all their other needs – elephants consume between 6 and 10 per cent of their body weight daily, and it costs approximately $18,000 to look after a single elephant for a year.

“Since the start of the national lockdown in Thailand in March, we have taken in three elephants and their carers. The Covid-19 elephant refugees, whose 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,” Roberts explains.

Donors can also support one of the resort’s elephant adoptees – Boon Rod, Kam Mool and Thong Inn – for one year by making a $18,000 donation. They will receive monthly updates on the life and well-being of their charge.

Other gift options include a $200 donation to bring an elephant in on a Zoom call for 15 minutes outside of key holidays; $600 to feed one of the resort’s three-ton giants for one month; $20 to feed one elephant for a day; and $110 to support the work of anti-poaching rangers for a week.

Bookings can be made directly with John Roberts on jroberts@anantara.com or via GTAEF at helpingelephants.org/contact-us

Updated: November 23, 2020 06:58 PM

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