Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo: Food, Magic, Playful Elephants, and Abused Crocodiles


After the somewhat relaxing short stop at the Royal Thai Handicraft Center, the next destination was the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo where we were to have lunch and watch the elephant show and the crocodile wrestling.


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo
Feeding the mother. (Snapshot from video file)


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show


The Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo hosts three events daily. Aside from the elephant show  and the crocodile wrestling, there's a magic show too, which was not really part of our itinerary, but we manged to see a few minutes of it. 


Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo Location


Buffet Lunch at the Erawan Restaurant


The buffet offers a wide variety of cuisines from local to western choices, but of course, we indulged ourselves mainly with Thai foods and some vegetables.

I must have been very hungry as I only had one photo during that time. 

Buffet at Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo


Here are some photos from the entrance of the dining hall and some from the inside, all from Anna's camera:

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo


Now I'm craving for some Thai foods!


To the Elephant Show


There are a few things to see or do in between the shows.

Just by the entrance, there's a spot where a (chained) tiger rests that you can take photos with for a fee, of course.

And there are elephants (a young and an old one during that time) that you can feed for 20 Baht.


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo
Our tickets to the Elephant Ground


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo tiger
The tiger where you can have your photo taken with. 


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo
Some people actually paid to feed these elephants. I wonder how much food they would have eaten by the end of the day.


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo
Animal Feed. 20 Baht (32 Php)

A Peek at the Magic Show


When we reached the venue for the elephant show, the magic show was still on and we were able to watch the last few minutes of it.

They were doing the 'swap' trick where a tied person goes inside a box that is then (allegedly) chained; and then the second person stands on top of the box and is supposed to swap position with the one inside the box in just a matter of second behind a curtain.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Magic Show
The magnificent magical stage!

I had never seen an actual and live magic show before and it was somewhat entertaining with all the very carnival-ish setup and thrilling background music. Suspense na suspense!

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Magic Show
Person B

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Magic Show
Person A - he was locked inside the box and in just a second he got out and replaced Person B. By the way, they actually have names, mentioned in the video below.


Here's the video clip.


After the Magic Show, the area (arena) was cleared, as shown in the video, and they started to prepare for the elephant show.


The Elephant Show


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show

First Part: Thai Elephant History

The first part was a play about the elephants' important roles in Thailand's culture and history with emphasis on being used as a means of transportation, in hauling logs from forests, and their role in wars.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show
A reenactment of how elephants and mahouts (elephant riders) worked together.  (Snapshot from video file)

There's a narrator in the background, accompanied with music and sound effects, but I was more drawn into the action and barely listened to the story.

I was taking videos almost the entire 'war' and the only time I took photos was of this lady who seemed to be quite enjoying the show.

I thought she looked like she was helping to kill the warriors with her phone. Looked like a villain.



See? Anyway.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show
But she probably was 'facebook-living' the entire thing. Remember what Robert Capa said: If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Second Part: Stunts and Play

The next part was now more like a circus (though I've never been to an actual circus).

The elephants started doing stunts and tricks like standing on two legs, playing hula hoops, shaking their heads, etc, but the soccer ball kicking was the amusing bit.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show
The elephants, now donning soccer uniforms, entered the stage and started doing stunts and poses. (Snapshot from video file)

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show
They played hula hoops and kicked soccer balls. (Snapshot from video file)

Third Part: Meet and Greet


After the show, the elephants lined up along the fence so the audience could touch and feed them.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Elephant Show


At least they get 'free' food from their fans.


Crocodile Wrestling

Before watching the crocodile show, go and check the crocodile pond (or pool) on the way.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show
The crocodile pond. (Photo by Anna)


Nothing special. They were just there, very still as they usually are.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show


You've probably seen a video of a performer in a crocodile show where his head got caught inside a croc's mouth. Well, it didn't happen in the next show. No performers got decapitated (or amputated).

The only exciting part was when one of the performers slid on the ground towards the open mouth of the crocodile, but the performer just ended up kissing the snout of the beast. So lame.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show


Everything else was just merely teasing the beasts with a stick if not pulling them here and there by the tail.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show


Having seen enough, we took some more souvenir photos.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show
Behind me was the elevated pathway that allows viewers to see the crocodile pool from a higher point of view.


Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show
Behind Anna was the Crocodile Arena.

Then walked back to the meeting place and shortly traveled back to Bangkok.

Final Thoughts

Food? Great!

Feeding the elephants? Save your money instead.

The magic show was okay (and a free, considering it wasn't part of the actual itinerary).

The elephant show was good, but still, I am not in favor of this kind of entertainment. Accordingly, the use of elephants in Thai tourism started when logging was banned in the country. Having no use in heavy works, they now find themselves being used to amuse tourists (like us) and beg for food at some point.

The crocodile show, which was actually called crocodile wrestling, was lame and cruel. A wrestling, may it be theatrical, should have both parties (man vs croc) equal chances to abuse each other. Don't you think?

I imagined it to be like this, where the performer would actually carry the beast and wrestle with it.

Samphran Elephant Grounds and Zoo Crocodile Show

But that would be preposterous.

Anyway, this one goes to the 'Don't Do This When In Thailand' list. ■


Travel Period: October 19, 2016
Destination: Sam Phran, Thailand



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