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Elephant Conservation Center

Elephant Conservation Center

A Natural Heaven For Laos' Elephants

The Elephant Conservation Center, located in Sayaboury in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, acts to preserve and protect the Asian elephant, a species that is on its way to extinction. Created in 2011 by a team of experts, its program is set up around the wellbeing of the animal, the reproduction, vet care, and the schooling of mahouts.

The Center welcomes elephants that have been working in the logging industry or mass tourism, or confiscated from illegal trafficking. And of course, calves and juveniles that were born at the Center thanks to its reproduction programme. The herd at the Center comprises of 30 elephants that enjoy a 540 hectares of protected forest to feed and roam. This large area is of great importance to the quality of life of the elephants, who consume more than 200kg of natural food each day.

Financed almost exclusively by ecotourism activities, the Center welcomes its visitors in a family environment where the wellbeing of the elephants stays the priority: they have no obligations, nor are they submitted to tourist rides. The Elephant Conservation Center is THE ONLY sanctuary in Asia that has been granted the “CONSERVATION GOLD” award by independent auditing organisation Asian Captive Elephants Standards (ACES). It has also been named the 4th best destination globally to observe elephants by WANDERLUST in 2023.

Committed more generally to substantive work for the preservation of Asian elephants, the Center offers new working conditions to mahouts and new breeding opportunities for their elephants. Through several projects, it has the opportunity to inform the disadvantaged populations of the country, which traditionally live from the work of elephants.

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Why is the ECC different?

  • Rather than taking elephants from their natural home into urban tourist areas, the ECC takes YOU to THEM, in their undisturbed natural environment;
  • Through the ECC’s elephant BREEDING PROGRAMME and their ELEPHANT HOSPITAL, the money you pay for your visit sustains elephant conservation across the country;
  • ECC is THE ONLY sanctuary in Laos to BREED elephants for the conservation of the epcies and RELEASE them into the wild.


  • ECC shelters the largest elephant herd under human care in Laos with 30 individuals in 2023
  • ECC released 4 elephants into the wild since 2019
  • ECC runs the only Elephant Nursery and Hospital in Laos


  • The ECC is established in Sayaboury province, Lao elephants’ historical land
  • For centuries, Sayaboury provides Lao elephants with the most adapted ecosystem and natural habitat
  • ECC is a stunning natural retreat set on the banks of the Nam Tien Lake and is surrounded by the majestic “Phu Xang” (elephant) mountain range
  • During your stay, you visit a variety of stations spanning 540ha including: the Elephant Nursery, Cows and Bulls’ Socialization Areas, Hospital and Treatment Area, Elephant Bath Area, Elephant Feeding Grounds, Information Center…
  • As a visitor, you are guided by a dedicated team of mahouts, vets, biologists and tour guides ready to take you into the world of Asian elephants
  • As a visitor, you stay in a lake-side bungalow with a private veranda in a lush tropical garden
  • The meals served at ECC are authentic and tasty with vegetarian and vegan options
  • As a visitor, you can also enjoy kayaking or our signature Sunset Cruise on the lake, or simply chill with a drink or go for a swim


  • 70 staff work at ECC, including 20 rangers and 30 mahouts


  • ECC runs various Scientific Research programmes and has several staff members at the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group
  • ECC contributes to the protection of the 192.000ha Nam Pouy National Protected Area (home to the 2nd population of wild elephants in Laos) in cooperation with the Lao Government
  • ECC runs Wild Elephant Monitoring Units and manages 2 rangers teams in the Nam Pouy National Protected Area
  • ECC runs Education Programmes for Lao school children (“Kids in Conservation” Programme)


  • The ECC has been granted the “Conservation Gold” Award by independent auditing organisation ASIAN CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS STANDARDS (ACES)
  • The ECC has been named the 4th best site in the world to observe elephants by WANDERLUST in 2023

Overall the ECC is a place of learning, observation and action.

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The Five Freedoms

1. Freedom from malnutrition

by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour


2. Freedom from thermal and physical discomfort

by providing an appropriate environment including shelter, shade, access to bathing facilities and social interaction with other elephants


3. Freedom from injury or disease

by providing :

Experienced mahouts or keepers who can handle the elephants without causing injury.

Preventative health care

Access to veterinary care


4. Freedom from fear and stress

by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering:

Limited use of bull hook (ankus), and efforts made to phase out its use for positive reinforcement training techniques.

Minimize public contact

Elephants free to move at will, escape and find refuge

Maintain elephants in social groups when at rest

Elephants should not be tethered except for welfare reasons


5. Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior

By providing sufficient space and areas where elephants are able and encouraged to dig, bathe, dive, forage, dust bathe etc and company of other elephants ideally in a social structure of mixed sex and age