Teen Plans to Open Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand
Jack Lanting, from Hamilton, was eight years old when he fell in love with Lily, a rescue elephant he met at the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand while on a trip with his mother, James Gabriel Martin writes for Lonely Planet Travel News. For many young travellers, encountering the beauty of animals close up can make for an unforgettable memory, but for Lanting, it set him on an ambitious path towards opening his very own elephant sanctuary.
Beginning in 2010, Lanting started a series of public talks at schools and community groups, as well as addressing different media outlets, all in an effort to raise awareness for the mistreatment of elephants as a result of the tourism industry.
Eighteen months after he met Lily, Lanting returned to Thailand with $20,000 in raised funds, ready to begin his search for an elephant that he could rescue.
Lanting’s travels took him to Surin Province, where he saw an elephant estimated to be in its 80’s that was working seven days a week carrying tourists, despite suffering from a broken leg. He named her Kwan Jai, meaning “beloved” in Thai, and refused to leave her side during the 24-hour trip to the Elephant Nature Park and for 18 weeks, Lanting acted as Kwan Jai’s carer, under the careful guidance of the veterinary staff at the sanctuary. Following that experience, Lanting continued to give talks on elephant welfare, as well as raising funds for a mulcher to shred food for toothless elephants, warm coats for sick and elderly ones and lifesaving medication.
With one year left at Hamilton’s St John’s College, Lanting’s plans have now turned towards opening his own sanctuary, which he hopes will help educate and raise awareness among tourists, as well as providing knowledge to the local community in Thailand to help them benefit from the positive treatment of elephants. The sanctuary will be a hands-off space for elephants to have their own room and freedom without any interference from visitors.
“It is a project that allows elephants to live a life worth living. They will get to live a life as close to what should have been theirs. The fact that it is hands off and that education is a number one focus is the most important thing that will help make change happen,” Lanting said.
Original article by James Gabriel Martin, Lonely Planet, October 19, 2017.
Photo by Viv Lanting.