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.


Neung is a man of many talents! In addition to coordinating our transportation logistics, he serves as the manager for our Gibbon Encounters initiative. Hailing from the Karen village where this project is rooted, Neung possesses profound knowledge of Karen and Thai culture, alongside expertise in gibbons. Fluent in English, he takes delight in connecting with each of our guests on a personal level. He is passionate about his community and helping the local people, to not only preserve their culture, but to preserve the forest and the wildlife there too. 


Cristina, our Assistant Manager, is originally from the North of Spain, holds a bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management and an international diploma in biodiversity and conservation. She also has a background in the tourism industry and education, further enhancing her skills in communication and advocacy. Her hobbies include organic farming, yoga, as she is a certified yoga teacher, and cooking. She travelled to Thailand in 2015 where she began her journey working with captive elephants. This first experience was eye-opening, exposing her to the harsh reality faced by Asian elephants in captivity. Since then, Cristina has worked on various projects, advised centres seeking ethical improvements, collaborated with NGOs, and visited dozens of different centres across Southeast Asia. Cristina remains committed to raising awareness and advocating for the ethical treatment of elephants, striving to create positive change in the tourism industry.


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.


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.


Laura is our Research and Intern Coordinator from Ireland. She developed a passion for animals from a very young age. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in zoology and later went on to study a masters in ethology with a strong focus on elephant behaviour and cognition. After spending time working with African elephants, she wanted to learn more about Asian elephants. She came to the project as a research intern and joined our team shortly after as our research and intern coordinator. Her hobbies include feeding the village dogs and long distance running.


Kanda is our local guide and has 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. 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

Mahout team

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.