The second video of a series by Nikkei Asian Review's Gwen Robinson looks at the Anatara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort's efforts to balance the financial and ethical demands of rescuing elephants, helping their caretakers, and welcoming tourists in northern Thailand. (featuring Ed Story, founder of The Elephant Story and John Roberts, Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF)
From 1961 until April 1975, 125,000 Hmong Hill tribe people served in the CIA's secret war in Laos. Approximately 39,000 of them were killed in action. Following the end of the war, the Pathet Lao and Vietnamese advisors killed another 230,000 Hmong people.
The Elephant Story purchases vintage Hmong fabric in The Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar join and applies the vintage Hmong fabric to Vietnam era fatigue jackets in memory of these courageous fighters.
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October Golden Triangle Visit Written by: Ed Story Joey and I were recently up at the Golden Triangle for a stay at our home there, The Four Seasons Tented Camp. Apart from being our physical home in The Golden Triangle all of our friends there ensure that we feel at home there. We had the opportunity to play some elephant polo but before we come to that I wanted to touch on a couple of wonderful things going on in that part of the world. I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Joshua Plotnik,...
THE ELEPHANT STORY FINAL MATCH AGAINST SARA STORY DESIGN IN THE KING'S CUP 2014 ELEPHANT POLO TOURNAMENT, BANGKOK, THAILAND Written by: Ed Story Our final match, or penalty shootout, was against a team that is very near and dear to me, that of my daughter Sara Story. Although each team had only lost one match by one point against the top two teams in the tournament while disregarding handicaps favoring each of us, we faced off for fifth and sixth place. Had we played our respective matches against the finalists, either one of us could have been...
THIRD DAY OF PLAY AT THE KING'S CUP 2014 ELEPHANT POLO TOURNAMENT BANGKOK THAILAND Written by: Ed Story The third day of play opened to sunny skies that followed a torrential downpour the night before. As everyone wanted to play an actual match, the only solution seemed to be the sand pit covered polo practice area used by horse polo players. All the various equipment in storage was moved outside of the arena and crude goals and markers were installed. Unfortunately, the elephants could not overcome their childhood days of playing soccer and chose every opportunity to kick...
SECOND DAY OF PLAY AT THE KING'S CUP 2014 ELEPHANT POLO TOURNAMENT BANGKOK THAILAND Written by: Ed Story The foremost objective of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is to ensure the safety of the elephants during the course of the tournament. Moreover, a qualified veterinarian is on duty at all times. Of secondary importance is raising funds for elephant conservation. The individual with ultimate responsibility for this task is John Roberts, Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, whose watchful eye is constantly on the polo pitch. John concluded that the field was not stable...
The Elephant Story team of Comfort, Texas competing against the world's top elephant polo teams Written by: Ed Story The King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament has become an annual event in Thailand held in honor of His Majesty the King and to raise funds for elephant conservation. This year it was held at the VR Sports Club in Bangkok. Sixteen teams from as many as thirty countries participated in this unusual sporting event. The first day was devoted to practice and offered many old friends the opportunity to reunite since the past year. While practicing, the handicapping committee...
A special thanks to San Antonio Magazine for such a beautiful write up! The Elephant Story BY NIKO MEDRANO PHOTO COURTESY THE ELEPHANT STORY Elephants don’t typically come up in conversations about coffee, but in Thailand and the Maldives, the large animal is the key to a brand of coffee served in five-star hotels. Now, Texans can have a taste of exclusive Black Ivory Coffee thanks to the Hill Country shop, The Elephant Story. Husband and wife Ed and Joey Story founded the store in Comfort in 2012. Filled with apparel and gifts, many of which are...
This necklace is made in Thailand of Pure Sterling Silver, and features a row of elephants that lay flat to the skin. What a perfect way to spoil your favorite person this holiday season than with this unique piece only found at The Elephant Story.
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Like many, if not all, of the products in The Elephant Story, these earrings are hand picked by Ed and Joey Story on their many travels around the world. These earrings in particular are some of the only Indian Silver products we have in stock and are completely unique and directly from India. \ Pieces similar have been featured in films from Bollywood to Hollywood and in fashion magazines worldwide such as Bazaar, Vogue, Elle and much more. What a perfect gift for some of the gorgeous women in your life, a piece or three of the most gorgeous earrings in the world inspired by...
Siam Cement of Thailand exports massive amounts of cement in bags to Cambodia as the country rebuilds itself following the devastating years of Khmer Rouge suppression. Each bag has an elephant image on it representing the iconic historic symbol of Thailand. In Cambodia, these discarded cement bags are crafted into tote, duffel, and cosmetic bags as well as coin purses by Cambodian craftsmen. The Elephant Story purchases them and returns the proceeds to elephant conservation. The irony of it is most of the elephants being helped came to Thailand from Cambodia to escape the war there. ...They are available in 9 different styles...
The Yao people are an ethnic minority living in the southern Yunan province of China and The Golden Triangle of Thailand. They practice a Taoist form of religion combined with Shamanism. The ethnic Yao people have their own language based on a Chinese dialect using Chinese script. These individual paintings on linen were originally part of a long scroll depicting a daily zodiac calendar describing the fortunes of Yao people born on a given day. Join our Email List [ccembed:28] See something on our blog that we don't sell online yet? Give us a call and order it...
THE ELEPHANT STORY EXPANSION STORE FEATURES AN ASSORTMENT OF THESE VINTAGE PILLOWS
We now have the ability to display and offer a one-of-a kind assortment of hand made ethnic hill tribe pillows from The Golden Triangle of Thailand where Laos,Myanmar, and Thailand join. The pillows utilize vintage fabric created from natural fibers that are then converted to comfortable works of art for your home.
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The Elephant Story has assembled a collection of vintage baskets from various hill tribes in The Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar come together. This exotic area is home to numerous ethnic hill tribes who have their own languages, customs and life styles. These baskets from Hmong, Akha, and Karen hill tribes were used in the rice paddy and their mountainous homes to store rice and other products. They now are distinctive home decorative accent pieces with each having it’s own history. Perhaps, some of the baskets carried treats for the elephants of Karen villagers or the opium of...
The Elephant Story has created a new line of women’s jeans incorporating vintage Hmong vintage fabric on new Levi jeans. The Hmong people live in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. During the Vietnam war era, they fought to defend Laos from North Vietnam under the support and guidance of the CIA. Over the course of the undeclared war in Laos, they suffered massive losses.
-- These ladies skinny jeans come in Levi sizes 28, 29 & 30 --
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Either as a greeting card for your personal use during the holidays, or a number of them as a gift, these unique pop-up greeting cards from Vietnam are great conversational pieces and clear works of art. We buy them from a young lady on a street corner in Ho Chi Minh City. This endeavor represents a cottage craft industry at its best.
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If you do not have a set of elephant formal studs and cuff links, The Elephant Story had these commissioned by Lin’s Jewelers, a well-known silversmith in Thailand. Other places may have similar things, but do their proceeds support elephant conservation like this product?
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Although you may not be an elephant polo player, you can support the Comfort based Elephant Story team by wearing one of Clint Orms designed buckles. Clint is internationally recognized as a leading silver smith artist. It is only appropriate that an Ingram, Texas artisan is supporting the only elephant polo store in the world.
Clint has also produced a buckle of elephants in the distance and an elephant money clip if you would prefer a more natural surrounding.
We have known Dr. Joshua Plotnik for a number of years. Over that period of time, he has been conducting a research project in The Golden Triangle of Thailand, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar join, studying elephants to reach conclusions regarding the intelligence, cognitive ability and empathy that these wonderful creatures have. The attached video is one example of his work.
It’s funny how I came across this little treasure. A friend and I met through a discussion of architecture and the work of a mutual client, but our conversation was so rich that we somehow shifted into talking about The Elephant Story, one of the most unique venues in the world. I now thank her for allowing me to learn about this gem hidden deep in the heart of Texas, and the fascinating ideas behind it. Out of Comfort (a small town south of Fredericksburg, just 90 miles from Downtown Austin) a marvelous story unfolds. It entails wildlife rescues, fun tales of men riding elephants during polo matches, villages of artisans producing exquisite goods, and, simply put, the most exotic and expensive coffee in the world. I’ll do my best to describe it…
In an effort to promote elephant conservation in Asian countries (most notably Thailand), Ed and Joey Story created The Elephant Story. Their mission is to raise awareness of the plight of what has become an endangered species, due to the deforestation in Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Various conservation groups in these cities are focused on removing elephants from exploitation in the streets to return them to their natural habitat. In conjunction with this effort, net profits from The Elephant Story are directed to various Asian elephant support foundations. Meanwhile, The Elephant Story supports indigenous crafts and textile groups in Asian elephant countries by providing a market in the US for their goods. For instance, Lao Textiles, the silk textiles of Carol Cassidy, support fifty weavers in Laos and eighty survivors of the Cambodian war. Moreover, the photographic images of Carol Stevenson will be offered for sale to support her elephant conservation efforts.
The Most Exclusive Coffee in the World
Through their involvement with the conservation of wildlife, the duo has become involved with the ultra-exclusive Black Ivory Coffee brand. The product is known (and has been featured in CNN, The Huffington Postand other worldwide outlets) as the most exotic and expensive coffee in the world. Exclusive to five star hotels in Thailand and the Maldives, Black Ivory Coffee is available at The Elephant Story, the only location in the western hemisphere to serve it. The in-store service experience is $50 for 14oz, which will serve 4 demitasse cups of Black Ivory Coffee. One packet of coffee beans is $40 (which makes 400ml of coffee) and is only sold in the store or by phone order (not available online).
Ten years in the making, Black Ivory Coffee is created through a process in which coffee beans are naturally refined by Thai elephants at theGolden Elephant Triangle Foundation (www.helpingelephants.org) in Chiang Saen, northern Thailand. It begins with selecting the best Thai Arabica beans that have been picked from an altitude as high as 1500 meters. Once deposited by the elephants, the individual beans are handpicked by the Mahouts and their wives, and then sun-dried and roasted. It’s a highly unusual process, but with extensive scientific exploration behind it. In contrast to carnivores, herbivores such as elephants use much more fermentation for digestion. Fermentation is desirable in coffee as it helps to impart the fruit from the coffee pulp into the bean. Meanwhile, research by Dr. Marcone at the University of Guelph indicates that during digestion, the enzymes of the elephant break down coffee protein. Since protein is one of the main factors responsible for bitterness in coffee, less protein means almost no bitterness. The result is one of the most exquisite taste experiences for coffee lovers worldwide.
Meanwhile, the amazing composition of green coffee beans make it so that the shell of the bean acts as a protective barrier to the coffee oils that are inside. No caffeine enters the elephant’s system, since sufficient heat is necessary in order to extract the caffeine from the bean. This is why coffee is roasted at roughly 200˚C and brewed at 93˚C. As part of nature’s perfect design, the skin and pulp of the coffee bean add further security for the elephant. Independent veterinarians and researchers have completed blood tests on the animals to confirm that the process represents no harm to them and professionals are always on-site during production.
Production takes place at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation headquarters. Blake Dinkin, founder of Black Ivory Coffee, chose this foundation after doing research on approximately 35 elephant sanctuaries and parks in Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. The organization met the highest criteria regarding the conditions in which the elephants are kept, the presence of an on-site veterinarian, their approach to elephant conservation and very pragmatic, thoughtful leadership by John Roberts who is the Executive Director of the foundation. To further their mission of animal preservation, Black Ivory Coffee contributes 8% of their sales to help fund a specialist elephant veterinarian to provide free care to all the elephants of Thailand through GTAEF. Additional funds are also used to purchase medicine as well as to build a new laboratory. Production of Black Ivory Coffee also provides a valuable income generation opportunity for the wives of the Mahoutsto help cover health expenses, school fees, food, and clothing.
Approximately 10,000 beans are picked for each kilogram of roasted coffee; thus, 33 kilograms of coffee cherries are required to produce just one kilogram of Black Ivory Coffee. During the entire process, elephants are completely unaffected by the caffeine. In fact, the animals consume the beans naturally. Black Ivory Coffee uses 100% Thai Arabica beans, which contain approximately 1% caffeine (in contrast, Robusta beans contain double that amount). It was reported that in 2012, 50kg of coffee were available with supply increasing, but factors including the availability of high quality coffee cherries, the appetite of the elephants, the number of beans destroyed through chewing of the beans, the ability of the mahouts and their wives to pick the beans by hand (10,000 beans equal one kg of Black Ivory Coffee) all have an impact on supply. Due to the limited supply, Black Ivory Coffee is only available at The Elephant Story and select five-star hotels around the world.
Sounds very fun; it’s definitely on my bucket list.
The World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) was formed in 1982 at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge, in the Chitwan National Park in southwest Nepal. The first games were played on a grass airfield in Meghauly, located on the edge of the National Park. The co-founders, James Manclark, a Scottish landowner and former Olympic toboggan racer, and Jim Edwards, owner of Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge and Chairman of the Tiger Mountain Group, came up with the idea in a bar in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where they were members of the Cresta Club.
The original elephant polo matches took place in India around the turn of the 20th century by the members of the Maharaja’s Harem (Zenena) to keep them busy. WEPA is the first paramount organization in modern times to host and create elephant polo as a game with organized competitions. The game is played with a standard polo ball. The sticks are made of bamboo and have a standard polo mallet on the end. The length of the stick depends on the size of the elephant but range from 74 inches to 100 inches, up to twice the length of a horse polo mallet.
Fascinated with its history and driven by their love of elephants, Ed and Joey Story have made The Elephants Story the only elephant polo store in the world, carrying jerseys and game gear for these fun matches, while also sharing this captivating story.
A truly charming place
With incredible images of elephants and faraway cities adorning its walls, The Elephant Story is chockfull not only of in interesting stories, but also distinctive character. It’s a quaint venue with a ton of charm, definitely worth a Sunday drive.
Check out the story directly on their website at http://www.vettamagazine.com/an-elephant-story/
The Elephant Story was recently featured in an amazing article by VETTA Magazine.
VETTA ONLINE , OCTOBER 2, 2014
It’s funny how I came across this little treasure. A friend and I met through a discussion of architecture and the work of a mutual client, but our conversation was so rich that we somehow shifted into talking about The Elephant Story, one of the most unique venues in the world. I now thank her for allowing me to learn about this gem hidden deep in the heart of Texas, and the fascinating ideas behind it....