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 dairy 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 alot 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 tribal Karen language and is often seen around the village communicating with the locals.
Sombat is also Co-founder and Head Mahout of Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Sombat is from the Karen tribe and is a Thai National. He grew up in a village in Mae Chaem and studied in the local government schools until he was 15. Although his partner Kerri grew up surrounded by cattle, 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 – together they created KS Elephant Sanctuary!
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!
Suh Gluh is the mahout of Dodo, who have been together for many years. He is from Sombat's family and has a very gentle nature especially with the elephants who he often brings treats for. Although Suh Gluh is still quite young, he has a lot that he could teach other mahouts about elephant care. Watching the interactions between Suh Gluh and Dodo is always a favorite from our visitors.
Tuh is the mahout of Mae Doom and enjoys spending time following her around the forest as well as making many different crafts out anything he can find! Tuh is a very experienced mahout and has been watching over elephants since a young age. He was also a tour guide in the past and speaks some English that he loves sharing with our guests. He provides a lot of guidance and advice to the younger mahouts and is a great asset to the team, as well as our resident basket weaver!
Nutah is the mahout of Gen Thong and both of these are our the most playful members of our team. With their similar personalities they make a great pair and provide a lot of entertainment to observe them together and with the other mahouts and elephants.