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They Say Elephants Never Forget – But How Do They Remember? Become an Elephant Researcher at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle and Learn About Elephant Intelligence.

Researching elephant behaviour with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation to help better protect these creatures in the wild.
May 23, 2012,
Golden Triangle, Thailand

They’re often called “gentle giants.” It's said that they never forget. And it's suspected that they are very, very intelligent. But how do we know? Now, for the first time ever, guests at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle will have the opportunity to witness first-hand elephant intelligence research program with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) – and actually participate themselves as part of the new Elephant Researcher Program.

The programme is overseen by John Roberts, director of elephants at Four Seasons Tented Camp and founder of the GTAEF, and Joshua Plotnik, PhD, a Newton Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge, head of research at the GTAEF and founder of Think Elephants International (TEI), a US-recognized non-profit foundation aiming to bring elephants into classrooms around the world virtually. Research involves games, tasks and rewards, and it’s very clear to see that those elephants taking part are enjoying what they’re doing.

Says Dr. Plotnik, “These studies are aimed at giving us a better understanding of how elephants use their senses to navigate their natural world, how they work together to obtain food, how they communicate with each other to solve problems, and how they understand their social relationships with each other. By understanding more about their intelligence and what motivates them, we are able to discover new avenues to protect them better in the wild. Understanding how elephants think and see their world will help us develop viable plans to protect them and their natural habitat.”

Guests participating in the new program will have the opportunity to be involved in running a research session, acting as researchers themselves. They will be involved in the discussion that goes on during each study about the elephants’ progress and thought processes during the research, and will also take part in recording the different types of behaviour displayed by each of the participating elephants.

Guests will also get to play the “research game” with the elephants – ie. interacting with the elephant, providing the reward (often a handful of very tasty sunflower seeds), and recording data, etc. – all the while being able to ask a group of native English-speaking researchers all they want to know about elephants.

After participating in the research session, guests will be given a private presentation about elephant welfare and conservation issues, the current status of wild and captive elephants in Thailand and the rest of Asia, elephant intelligence, and the work of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and Think Elephants International.

The half-day Elephant Researcher Program is priced at THB 11,000.00 per couple with proceeds going to support the works of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and Think Elephants International, and will be available from July 1, 2012 at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.