Please note: the positions are only available to people with the requisite experience. For our regular program, open to all people, please submit a booking form after checking packages and availability calendar.
Elephantstay is offering a fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable experience working with elephants in the most dynamic working elephant village
Being a part of our organisation is all about dependability and initiative. To be effective and to get the most out of your experience, you must be well prepared.
These positions are important for the elephants, their welfare and conservation, offering optimal learning experience for the successful candidate.
Be sure you are able to meet all requirements before applying to participate.
Due to the nature of the positions, all successful applicants will be subject to a trial period.
We have the following volunteer position on offer, please click on the position for further details.
I always wanted to volunteer with elephants and came across Elephantstay on facebook. I haven’t been to Thailand before and jumped on the opportunity. Living & working in an Elephant Village, a dream come true!
I hadn’t worked with animals before but had office & admin experience. I wanted to use my professional skills to make a difference while learning about elephants & elephant care – so the volunteer position of Program Development Officer was ideal. I applied for the role and was offered a 12-week placement.
Office duties included general office admin, dealing with the bookings, replying to emails, taking photographs, updating social media – and of course helping with the guests and the elephants.
It’s not a holiday, as a volunteer you are here to help & do a job, you have to be self-sufficient, multi-task, organize your time and fit in with the team. It can be busy and stressful at times, it’s not always easy, there were good and bad moments. But the rewards are huge! Where else do you wake up to elephants walking past your house? Or get to play with baby elephants before you start work? Or hear someone knocking on your door in the middle of the night shouting: ‘We have a new baby, come quick, bring your camera’. Or Ewa saying: ‘Soi is doing some painting today. Can you help?’
Every day was different and there was always something going on. Elephant training, ceremonies, painting, scrubbing, riding, playtime in the river, babies – yes lots of babies, there were 3 births during my time at Elephantstay. I will never forget the special moment when Ozzy did his first steps in the middle of the night or Bua Sawan putting her tiny trunk around my neck. So beautiful!
These 12-weeks flew by. I learned so much during my time at Elephantstay – about elephants, Thai elephant culture, the strong bond between humans and elephants, the challenges of creating a sustainable future for Asian elephants. I loved the atmosphere in the Village and have met so many amazing people here. I feel extremely lucky to be part of the Elephantstay family and the elephants will always be a part of me.
From JohnWilliam Acker
I was fortunate enough to be accepted to a three month volunteer position at Elephantstay for the months of April, May and June of 2014. I had a background working in Zoo's and an Aquarium, but this would be my first time working with Elephants, and my first trip to Thailand and Asia. I had pretravel jitters, and on my way to the airport I was wondering what in the world I had just gotten myself into. I had read every testimonial, every trip adviser review to try and get a better feel of what to expect when I got there. I can tell you from experience, no matter how much you read, and picture in your head what it will be like, nothing can prepare you for that first moment as your Tuk-tuk passes the war elephant monument, then you see the white walls and red pillars of the historic Royal Elephant Kraal, and finally the turn into the village that was to be my home for the next three months. When you make that turn that's where the magic happens, everything you've planned and waited for... Elephants, and not one or two, Elephants everywhere !!! ... elephantstay testimonial continued
From Anne Wilkinson, UK
I first came to Elephantstay for two weeks holiday in March 2011. At that time I was working at Australia Zoo with the farm animals in the Kids Zoo section…….however the elephants were my love and passion and so I began volunteering one day a week with the elephants at the zoo………I really wanted to ride an elephant but couldn’t do that at the zoo and therefore I found Elephantstay on the internet and duly arrived for my holiday. It was a wonderful two weeks and I totally fell in love with Pisamy who was my allocated elephant for the time I was here.
Upon returning to Australia, I wanted to work more with elephants and also to give the elephants back something in return for the way the human race has and unfortunately still is treating them………So I applied and was accepted as a volunteer for 6 months……..I was due to start in October 2011, but due to the dreadful floods, it was actually Mid December when I finally was able to start.
Volunteering is totally different from being a guest and you have to work long hard days, this can be very draining due to the extreme heat and humidity at times……..You are responsible for the guests enjoyment and most of all safety…….obviously elephants are very large and at times can be very dangerous and you have to be totally aware of your surroundings and what is happening at all times and make sure the guests are enjoying their stay, getting what they want out of the experience and not venturing into any trouble……….
As with everything, the more you put in to something the more you get out of it…….I love helping people and therefore volunteering gives me great satisfaction as I can help the visitors enjoy their time at Elephantstay and hopefully impart interesting information about the elephants that they are here to spend time with…..
As for myself…..the satisfaction I get from waking up or being woken up during the night by the elephant noises is incredible…. to be able to open my door and see Soi the elephant just outside in her night area and the working elephants walking past on their way to the river and back is just unreal……and of course the time I get to spend with the babies is so rewarding……I was incredibly fortunate and extremely honoured to witness the actual birth of baby TG who was born on 23 April 2012 and that event remains one of the most memorable days of my life…...The main thing for me however is that I feel by being a volunteer, I am fulfilling my greatest desire to help the plight of all the elephants left in the world……….
It is not always easy being a volunteer, but the rewards are unmeasurable and that is why after my first 6 months of volunteering, I went back to the UK for 3 weeks and then came back for another 2 months…….and I have just returned to Elephantstay on 30 October 2014 for a further 3 months of volunteering!!!
From Matthew Ward, UK
I first came to Elephantstay as a guest and looked after Honey the elephant for a week. During that week I was completely captivated by these animals, the village, the work that goes on here and specifically fell head over heels in love with my Honey! It was love before first sight.
Back in the UK Elephantstay never left my mind and I wanted to get back there as soon as possible and learn more. I applied for the volunteer position working in the office and was given a 6 month placement. Office duties included replying to emails, updating social media and general office admin but there was plenty of time to see the elephants and be involved in the program too. Although it may seem obvious, being a volunteer is very different to being a guest and so you get to learn more of the reality of the place as well as the magic. Volunteers are here to help, work and look after the guests that visit Elephantstay. It can be long hours but with that comes the extreme pleasure and honour of living on site with over 80 elephants. You get out of it what you put in. I was here for 6 months volunteering and the time flew by so even if things aren't always easy, appreciate everything because it goes so quick and is an opportunity like no other. There is a routine that is followed and the quicker volunteers learn it the better.
Before Elephantstay, elephants were never really my favourite animal but being here you become part of the family and part of the village. You learn about elephants and you bond with these amazing animals also learning about each individual personality trait that they have. It sounds dramatic but it is life changing! Elephants are a part of me now and always will be.
From Leah Unwin, UK
I first visited Elephantstay in 2008 as a tourist passing through Ayutthaya. I visited the tourist camp and the working village where I met Paul who told me about the PraKocha-Baan Foundation, Elephantstay and how they were trying to ensure a safe and stable future for Asian elephants. I instantly wanted to come back as an elephantstayer and I did in April 2012. During my 3 day experience I fell in love with my elephant and the village. I learnt more about the plight of the Asian elephant and wanted to help the foundation and so I applied for a volunteer position and returned in June 2014 as a Program Development Officer for 12 weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a volunteer and still felt honoured to wake up to the sounds of the elephants and be able to live among them by the end of my stay. Working in the office built my knowledge further about Asian elephants and the struggles that Elephantstay face in their fight to secure Asian elephants future. However, I still had lots of time every day to work with and enjoy the elephants and village life. I loved watching guests fall in love with their elephant and seeing them grow in confidence on their rides. I learnt so much from my Elephantstay family and thank them for that and giving me an unforgettable few months. I can't believe how quickly my 12 weeks went and think that no amount of time would be enough with my elephant family. Elephantstay now more than ever has a huge piece of my heart and I wish that everyone could have the opportunity to visit, experience and appreciate the work of Elephantstay and the PraKocha-Baan Foundation.
From Lindsay Phillips, Canada
It has been a month since my volunteer experience at Elephantstay. How I miss my morning wake up of elephants moving about and the mahouts getting ready for work. The people, the village and the elephants were fabulous. The moment you arrive you become immersed with these amazing people that work in the program and they quickly become a family to you during your time in the village. Even though we worked hard every day I think i gained weight the food was so delicious! There were joyous times and sad times while I was there. And it was an experience I will never forget as it touched my soul in a way that no other place in the world could. When I started my volunteer position at Elephantstay I tried my best to prepare myself for the experience. But the moment I entered the kraal I realized that all that preparation was going out the window because the kraal went above and beyond my expectations. Within hours I was learning more about elephants and their relationship with their mahouts then I ever thought I would learn. I watched the babies in the nursery grow and discover new things. I connected and learned the personalities with all the elephants I worked with. And I learned just how brilliant elephants are. These beautiful creatures will never cease to amaze me. Even though the days were very hot and you were exhausted by the end of the day it did not matter.
I would, and have recommend this place to everyone. It is an experience of a lifetime that you will never forget. As many at the Kraal say the elephants get into your blood and they become part of your own family the way they touch peoples hearts.
I hope everyone gets to experience this at least once in their lifetime.
From Caitlin Shaw, Canada
I applied for a volunteer position at elephantstay for 3 months, never having been there or even to Thailand. I was luckily accepted and began preparing myself for 12 weeks working with elephants. But of course nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. I knew from the Facebook group that people loved going to elephantstay but you can never really be sure of something till you have tried it yourself. I went in hoping to gain elephant experience (towards future veterinary goals) and just learn more about these animals that have always interested me. I ended up leaving what I felt like was a second home. I fell in love with this place, the program, the elephants and the entire village. I couldn't have asked for a better experience and I learned so much more than I thought was possible. It is so rewarding to see not only your own growth, developing a relationship with an elephant and gaining respect for what this program does but as a volunteer I could directly participate in the growth and education of all the guests coming through. I got to witness magical, unforgettable moments in peoples lives as they bonded and fell in love with their elephants. I got to wake up and open my door every morning to see elephants walk by. I went to sleep every night listening to the sounds of the village and every day I got to see unforgettable relationships between mahout and elephant take place. I am so lucky to have been a part of this program. Even on hard days, sweating and tired, I considered my time there so incredibly valuable. As a volunteer you are there to work but you are also supported and given the tools you need to learn and grow. You end up gaining much more than you could ever really give.
I hope everyone has a chance to visit elephantstay. Its so worthwhile, and the accommodation and food are fantastic ;) You will learn about elephants but also about Thai culture, their view on elephants, village life and most importantly you learn about yourself.
It has and will forever have a piece of my heart.
From Chris Honey, wildlife conservationist now working in Vietnam.
I lay in bed in my hatched cabin, the symphony of the morning stirs me softly. But there’s something else, a gentle and quite noise yet its presence is enough to bring my senses alert and force me out of bed. I go to my window and prod open the shutter to see a young local boy, no older than 8 mounting the back of a tremendous, stunning bull elephant who is happily chewing on shoots of water lilies whilst he wades through the muddy pathway. What awoke me? Not the hola of the elephant village awakening, nor the soothing hymn of young local lad, but rather the presence of this beautiful sentinel being strolling only feet away from my raised bamboo hut.
And that was only the first day. Little prepared me for the life changing month I was about to embark where every day I would live alongside the locals whilst being part of an elite, hands on team to uphold and conserve one of the most awe inspiring species on this planet. There is a reason why they are a flagship species and it wasn’t until Siniwan (an aged retired female elephant) paused and noted my presence, before greedily snatching the whole watermelon from my hands that I realised why. Asian elephants most defiantly have that ‘wow’ factor. They are without a doubt; Big, Bulbous and Beautiful.
As an Elephant Stay volunteer I experienced something that you cannot do within Europe, due to all the red tape. The program taught me core practical husbandry whilst educating me about the roots of elephant domestication and why it is so essential for the Asian elephant’s survival. The Elephant Stay program demonstrated that the tool of conservation can ultimately be a connection between two species, which I learnt was reciprocate both ways. Mahouts (elephant handlers) and elephants themselves have a timely bond which within Thailand has been entwining for the past 5000 years. I now understand that for the Thai culture, tourism and the livelihood of many depend on the survival of that bond between beast and man. Elephant stay is not just an elephant conservation program, it is preserving Thai heritage and its history.
As to be expected it was not always easy working as part of the Elephant Stay team- because let’s face it, elephants are large and messy. The days can be long and most of the time is it the visitors that cause the head ache. But all is rewarded when you are sitting upon the back of your favourite nelly heading out into some local fields to do a spot of afternoon grazing.
The village is a bustle of activity with an essence of peacefulness which for me was the best learning environment. Each day bought something new whilst both Michelle and Ewa encouraged me to get stuck in, be creative and think outside the box. They listened well to all that I said and I left feeling that I had made a difference.
Michelle and Ewa deserve so much credit for the long, arduous hours they have invested into the program. During my stay and even now they act as my advisors and friends who I hold the deepest respect for. My experience has left warmth in my heart for the elephant village and the deepest memories I shall never forget! Cheers for everything guys Chris Honey
Neil was with us for a year and is coming back for more, pictures often say more than words so check this out. Neil Campbell has since become a permant member of our Elephanstay staff.
Dr Katrina Gregory had this article Silent Footsteps published about her experience as a volunteer here
Dr Kat with Pang Naampet.
Sydney Veterinarian Nurse Sarah Griffin talks about her time here
Sarah on Pang Sinuwan Sarah on Plai KoCha unloading pineapple plant