Thailand’s Mascot Among the Verdant Rice Paddies of the North
A common sight in paddy fields and farms across the region, the water buffalo holds great significance in rural Thai and Southeast Asian cultures for its role in rice-farming. Raised as one of the family, these gentle giants remain a part of the daily lives and routines of the rural folk in a tradition that has endured over centuries. “Recognising their cultural significance, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is committed to maintaining its very own herd of buffalo, to showcase the close connect between these animals and traditional farming practices,” smiles Pondkaran Kantha, Chief Gardener.
Guests are invited to participate in some of the daily activities that make up the routine for the resident herd, including helping to feed the animals and join them as they splash about during bath time. “We are careful to prioritise the wellbeing and safety of the animals under our care,” says Kantha. “We ensure a clean environment for the buffaloes while allowing guests an unusual access into the lives of these magnificent creatures.”
Preserving cultural heritage and promoting traditional, sustainable farming, the balance of tradition, responsible tourism, and animal welfare is maintained to create meaningful and immersive experiences for the guests. To that extent, the Resort’s water buffalos have their unique identities and traits.
Meet the Team
- P’Tone (Staff ID card #08A9): A wise and gentle black buffalo, Tone has long been the mascot of the Resort. “Meaning ‘only child,’ his name in Thai language is suggestive of him being the first member of the herd when he was brought in,” shares Kantha. After a distinguished career of more than 20 years, Tone has recently retired from active duty and is now called "Uncle Tone" to the younger buffaloes. “However, he does insist on being addressed as 'P’ Tone' - brother not uncle - if you drop by to visit him at the barn!” she laughs.
- P’Thay (Staff ID card #08B9): The name – which translates to “handsome” in Thai - is just apt for the Resort’s charming white buffalo. Shutter-friendly and affable, Thay is a charmer, always eager to meet and engage with guests. "Thay has been with the Resort team since 2014 and is growing into his role as the leader among his buffalo herd,” says Kantha.
- P’Thiew (Staff ID card #08C9): This lovable albino buffalo has been with the Resort ever since he was a calf. “While most buffaloes love fresh grass, Thiew has developed a sweet tooth and is particularly fond of bananas and grapes,” smiles Kantha. Gentle natured and even tempered, Thiew enjoys a splash when guests join him at bath time.
- P’Thung (Staff ID card #08D9): Thung is the most playful of the buffaloes at the Resort. “Always looking to have some fun, he often makes a snorting sound, which means he is in the mood to play,” she adds. As the youngsters in the herd, Thung and Thiew share an unbreakable bond, and love to romp about together through the rice paddies any chance they get.
- P’Thui (Staff ID card #08E9): Youngest member of the herd Thui was born in April 2022 and became an instant hit with the other buffaloes when he joined the herd in July 2023. “He prefers grass over fruit at mealtimes unlike his companions, and is thrilled when guests join in to hose him down at bath time,” laughs Kantha. He is most fond of P’Thung and the two share a special bond.
“Our Resort has two dedicated farmers who look after our buffalo,” explains Kantha. Uncle Mee and Uncle Poj, both with an impressive 20-year tenure of looking after the Resort’s herd, begin their day examining and cleaning the buffalo barn. “P’Thiew and P’Thung greet our guests at the lobby for a cheerful and rewarding start to the day,” she adds, “Afterwards, they make their way back to the buffalo barn where they rest until mealtime.” Meanwhile Uncle Mee and Uncle Poj handpick the freshest, dew-laden grass for their beloved buffalo family. When the sun is at its brightest, is when the buffaloes are treated to their favourite activity - a raucous bath that guests can join. “For the buffaloes, this daily bathing ritual is not just about getting clean, but more a way to have some fun and frolic,” Kantha smiles. Uncle Mee and Uncle Poj are also tasked with managing the on-site appointments with a skilled local veterinarian to conduct routine health check-ups for each of the buffaloes.
“At the end of the day, as the sun begins its splendid descent, the farmers and buffalo in unison prepare to call it a day,” she shares. Uncle Mee, Uncle Poj, the herd, and the entire team of gardeners and farmers form a joyous parade, winding through the rice fields and back to their homes with the hopes of another fulfilling day to come.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai