Who We Are
Our award winning sanctuary is run by Kindred Spirit Elephant Foundation, a registered NGO in Thailand. We opened our doors in May 2016, with the aim to bring as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat whilst working on educating both the public and the locals about elephant treatment and try to combat illegal trade. We at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary are passionate about elephant welfare and want our elephants to live their lives as naturally and with as little human influence as possible. We do not promote elephant rides or any form of elephant performance.
We also work very closely with the community of our village where the sanctuary is set. We provide an income for our community by creating homestays for the volunteers to stay, renting land, and creating jobs. We give back to our wonderful community by teaching English at the school, to the homestays and to the mahouts. We have won the Responsible Thailand Community Based Tourism Award, been commended by The World Responsible Tourism Animal Welfare Award and Thailand Green Excellence Animal Welfare Award.Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary was founded by Kerri McCrea & Sombat.Wirakhwamdee
Kerri is Co-founder and Manager of Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Growing up on a farm in Northern Ireland, Kerri spent her life surrounded by animals. She knew from a young age that she wanted to work with animals but wasn’t sure what direction to take. In 2013, after finishing her Zoology degree at Queen’s University Belfast, Kerri moved to Thailand and has worked with several NGOs, spending a lot of time working with or visiting elephant projects. This is where her eyes where opened to the elephant situation in Asia and since then, she has been working on ways to help the elephants and spread awareness. Kerri can speak the Karen language and is often seen around the village communicating with the locals.
Sombat is also Co-founder of Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Sombat is Karen He grew up in a village in Mae Chaem and studied in the local government schools until he was 15. Sombat’s upbringing was surrounded by elephants and the culture of mahouting has been passed down from generation to generation. Sombat started learning the trade from his Father and Uncle from a very young age and started working in the tourist camps once he finished school. At the age of 21, he returned to his village to work with the elephants in an ethical project where they are returned to their natural habitat. This is where he met Kerri and also where Sombat could see first hand, how much happier and content the elephants where in the forest rather than in the camps. It was this shared vision that catalyzed the creation of KS Elephant Sanctuary, an endeavor dedicated to the ethical and compassionate treatment of elephants in their native environment.
Aislinn is an American/Mexican, has a Biology degree at San Diego State University and is an amazing veterinary technician. She spends her free time reading her kindle in the hammock and chasing after the base dogs!
Gae is our local guide and has also spent her life surrounded by elephants. She grew up in the Karen village our sanctuary is set in but has spent most of her time studying tourism at university and working to provide for her family's elephants. Now that she is back home in her village with her family, she is very keen to join our project and teach our guests and interns about the Karen way of life. In her spare time, she can be found weaving and embroidering the traditional Karen shirts, skirts and bags.
Our guest coordinator Jasmin is our resident Italian/Slovenian and has a degree in tourism and a masters in event management. Jasmin first joined us as a placement intern in 2022, whilst also completing an elephant internship through a partner organisation, and ended up joining our team fulltime later in the year! Jasmin speaks four languages and can often be found avoiding rice and snacking on some popcorn!
Sagluh is our head mahout and the care taker of Dodo, who have been together for many years. Sagluh has been an integral part of our project since its inception, and has a gentle and nurturing nature, especially with the elephants who he often brings treats for. Despite his young age, Sagluh possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the realm of elephant care, making him a valuable resource for fellow mahouts. Watching the interactions between Suh Gluh and Dodo is always a favorite from our visitors.
The most important members of our team are the mahouts, or elephant caretakers, who dedicate their days to the welfare of our elephants and ensure their safe exploration of their natural environment. they are caretakers, advocates, educators, and experts who contribute significantly to the well-being and protection of elephants, whether in captivity or in the wild. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication are critical components of successful conservation efforts.