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What is an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket?

So many people are looking for an elephant sanctuary in Phuket and across Thailand, and in 2024 it is so difficult to read through the sea of misinformation!

You will be bombarded with buzzwords like ECO, Care, Retirement and many others.

You will also see many “Sanctuaries” with brochures and websites with the words no hooks, no chains and no riding, in order to fool you as tourists into thinking you are making the right choice.

However, just having the right buzzwords on your brochure or website doesn’t automatically qualify an elephant tourism business in Phuket as an ethical elephant sanctuary.

Things have become so unclear for unsuspecting tourists that google is now showing an increased search volume for things like “The Most Ethical Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket”.

Surely as a business, you either are, or you are not ethical?

What makes Hidden Forest Elephant Reserve a genuine elephant sanctuary?

Well, we follow “The 5 Freedoms For Animals” approach for a start.

  1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition. 

  2. Freedom from discomfort and exposure

  3. Freedom from pain, injury & disease.

  4. Freedom from fear and distress.

  5. Freedom to express normal behaviour.

As a tourist you have to ask yourself some hard questions.

Is the activity you are about to do, in the best interest of the animal (in our case the elephant)?

Does the activity cause the elephant any fear or distress? 

Can the elephant exhibit as much natural behaviour as possible or is the elephant over controlled so as not to cause any harm to tourists?


Our team has had many years working with elephants in Phuket and have been pivotal in the movement towards a gentle approach to elephant tourism.

Hidden Forest Elephant Reserve is listed on and we are trusted by many international organisations, both private and public, for our knowledge about elephant welfare and standards.

So, before you are inundated with the many buzzwords that will help you feel better about your choice, please think 'will my choice be the right one for the elephant?'

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