This Hotel Is Offering a Once-in-a-lifetime Zoom Call With Santa and a Few Adorable Rescue Elephants

Santa on walk with elephants

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, the famed resort in Thailand, is hoping to help spread a little holiday cheer with the help of Santa and a few pachyderm friends. 

The hotel, along with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), announced in November its plans to launch a one-of-a-kind holiday gift delivery from “Santa & his Eles.” Yes, that’s right. The hotel’s elephants and Christmas’ jolliest man will be available for Zoom calls live from Northern Thailand’s ancient jungle, all season long, and all for a good cause. 

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, revelers will have the chance to Zoom with Santa and the elephants for 20 minutes. On the call, adults and children can ask Santa questions about the elephants, and guests will even get to participate in a few once-in-a-lifetime virtual elephant experiences, including the resort’s ‘Walking With Giants’ experience. 

Santa feeding elephant

Tickets for the Zoom event will be extremely limited and will require a $2,500 donation with the reservation. As the hotel explains, all tax-deductible donations (US & Canada only) will ensure that GTAEF can continue to care for Asian elephants. 

For those unfamiliar with the hotel’s elephant programming here’s a bit of history. In 2003, the resort, along with GTAEF, set up its elephant camp to help rescue elephants being used as street entertainment. Twenty-three elephants, along with their entire mahout families, now live happily in the protected jungle environment. 

For those who still want to give but may not be able to join in on the Zoom can do so with a variety of options, including a $20 donation to feed one elephant for one day, a $110 donation to support the work of critical anti-poaching rangers for one week, a $200 donation for a fifteen-minute “elephant trunk call” (outside of key holidays), a $600 donation to feed one of the resort’s elephants for one month, and an $18,000 ‘rescue donation’, which fully supports one of the three elephants rescued due to COVID-19 for an entire year. All of these donations, big and small, matter now more than ever, according to John Roberts, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas’ group director of sustainability & Conservation. As he noted in a statement, the almost total disappearance of tourism throughout Thailand due to COVID-19 continues to have a negative effect on “the Kingdom’s 3,800 odd captive elephants.” 

“Their caregivers still need to find at least $20 per day just to feed their elephant, let alone their own family, and meet all their other needs – elephants consume between six and ten percent of their body weight daily, and it costs approximately $18,000 a year to look after a single elephant,” he shared. “Since the start of the national lockdown in Thailand in March, we have taken in three elephants and their mahouts. The COVID-19 elephant refugees, whose camps were unable to care for them and would ultimately have left them unfriended and unfed, are now matched with friendship groups and, of course, have their own diet plan.” 

For Zoom video call bookings with Santa & the Eles, or to support the elephants at another giving level, contact Roberts directly at [email protected] or GTAEF on its website now.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.  

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