The Elephant Project Travels From SoCal to Thailand to Save the Elephants

The Elephant Project

Elephants are one of the most beloved and majestic animals in the world. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most threatened and exploited. In many Asian countries, like Thailand, ‘begging elephants’ are a common sight, despite the practice being illegal. Most of these elephants are poached from the wild as babies and sold into captivity. They are beaten and tortured for months until they are so terrified of humans that they would do anything, including being used as props to avoid further abuse. To help protect and conserve these majestic creatures, The Elephant Project, led by the company’s founder Kristina McKean, traveled from Southern California to Thailand.

Kristina McKean and her daughter kick-started their year with a mission-driven visit to the source of her company’s initial inspiration in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Kristina built The Elephant Project after her first trip to Thailand about 23 years ago. She saw a baby elephant ‘begging’ on the streets, and the looks of despair and hopelessness from the animal broke her heart. When she came back home, the only thing she could think of was what she could do differently to end this practice.

The Elephant Project

The Elephant Project is a philanthropic toy company that supports different elephant foundations in Asia and Africa. They donate 100% of their net sales from Kiki and Tembo (two of their stuffed elephants) to rescue efforts, orphanages, and elephant sanctuaries like The Elephant National Park in Thailand.

Kristina has been working closely with The Elephant National Park to end ‘begging elephants’ in the country and save baby elephants. During her month-long visit to Thailand, she connected with some of the conservation leaders driving these initiatives forward.

The Elephant Project

Kristina and her daughter were welcomed by celebrated animal rights activists and the founder of The Elephant National Park, Lek Chailert, along with her team of conservation and elephant experts. Kristina met the beloved Baby Chaba, a rescued baby elephant and the real-world living counterpart to The Elephant Project’s newest SaveUs™ collection mini plushie. The plushie is being sold together with a booklet, and 100% of the proceeds from both will go directly to the Elephant Nature Park so they can help rescue other elephants.

Kristina also visited other elephants outside the sanctuary. On the last day of the trip, Kristina and her daughter stopped by the famous ‘riding camp’ where elephants are chained and treated horribly with bullhooks, an experience Kristina describes as heart-wrenching.

The Elephant Project

“It is so unfortunate that many elephants have to suffer and even die due to the extreme exploitations. These animals are forced out of their habitats by us humans and then subjected to torture just because we want to use them as props for our entertainment,” Kristina says.

As she returns to the US, Kristina McKean hopes to create more awareness of elephant tourism/begging and save more baby elephants. Kristina also advocates for 100% human practice in shelters and orphanages. The Elephant Project only works with organizations that follow 100% humane practices in rescue and care.

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