So many animals that belong in the wild are born and raised in captivity, where they're unfairly treated and exploited for our use and amusement. The Elephant Rescue Park is a newly established sanctuary; it's long term objective being to offer a permanent home to abused, injured and mistreated ellies. They're nestled in a pristine and unspoiled valley north of Chiang Mai in Thailand, and after painstakingly researching the most ethical elephant sanctuaries in the area, I decided to pay them a visit.
Animal welfare, particularly when it comes to wildlife in captivity, is something I feel a soul-calling for. I won't bore you with emotional accounts of my own experiences, nor will I conservation-bash you into never doing an elephant ride in Thailand or petting a lion cub in South Africa (but seriously, don't). What I will share with you is that when I find an organization I believe in, whose values are aligned with my own, I am easily caught up with trying to donate my time, my energy, my skills, my money, my life and my entire emotional capacity to this cause until I inevitably collapse into an emotionally exhausted, physically run-down, disillusioned puddle of sweat and tears. Fortunately, with the maturity I've gained through a bit of life experience, I've learned how to go about donating my time more responsibly in ways that are effective, make a difference and raise awareness without depleting my energy or disrupting my own personal balance.
And so, I decided to donate some of my time and design skills to helping the Elephant Rescue Park set themselves up with a new logo, business cards, a redesigned brochure, T-shirt designs, and an illustration or two to sell or gift their guests. I also set up a crowd funding page to help them obtain the funds to take on full ownership of a severely injured elephant in their care, and get her the professional medical care and treatment she needed (I'm proud to say that we were successful, and a few days ago she was moved to an elephant hospital).
In exchange, I got to form what I know will be lifelong friendships with some of the most selfless, big-hearted humans and soulful, gentle elephants I will ever have the privilege to know.
To see more of what this wonderful organization is about, visit their website or facebook page.