The Elephant Project Founder, Kristina McKean, Lives Among the Elephants in Chiang Mai’s Most Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.–()–Kristina McKean, founder of the philanthropic toy company, The Elephant Project, is proud to share that she has returned from a life-changing, successful journey to Chiang Mai, Thailand. She just completed a visit the source of her company’s initial inspiration, Elephant Nature Park. McKean crossed the globe to meet the world-renowned sanctuary’s staff and its impressive herd of ethically rescued elephants, many of whom The Elephant Project has played a role in helping save. By donating 100% of the company’s net sales to global rescue efforts, elephant sanctuaries including Elephant Nature Park, orphanages, and other aligned organizations that are carrying out this powerful shared vision on the ground, McKean and her all-female team have contributed to the rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation of hundreds of elephants worldwide.

To kick off 2023, McKean and her daughter embarked on a mission-driven visit on January 6th to connect in person with some of the conservation leaders who are driving these initiatives forward on a global scale. During this month’s visit, they also had the opportunity to meet the beloved Baby Chaba, a rescued baby elephant and the real-world living counterpart to The Elephant Project’s newest SaveUs™ collection mini plushie that is accompanied by a booklet at time of purchase. 100% of the net proceeds from Baby Chaba and the book go directly to the Elephant Nature Park so they can help rescue other elephants.

McKean and her daughter were greeted in Chiang Mai by Lek Chailert — animal rights icon, founder of Elephant Nature Park and the Save Elephant Foundation, and McKean’s personal hero, along with Chailert’s team of conservation and elephant experts.

“I’m so appreciative of everything Lek does, because there aren’t many people in the world like her who’ve walked away from comfort to dedicate their entire lives to saving endangered, abused, and majestic animals like these. Beyond the elephants she’s saved, she has also rescued and taken care of over 2000 cats, 1000 dogs, monkeys, horses, you name it,” said McKean. “It’s crucial for us to be able to physically connect with the elephants we’re fighting to save, along with the people and places that are having such a positive impact on the cause … and I couldn’t be more grateful to now be able to share that connection with my daughter. We want to maintain a true, real-time understanding of the work these nonprofits are doing and the various ways our community can get involved through a toy purchase or a direct donation, and beyond. Ultimately, that’s our core business goal: to support these organizations and amplify the impact they’re having on the protection of these precious creatures.”

The pair’s visit consisted of a meticulously-designed program to spotlight the important work of ethical sanctuaries like Elephant Nature Park, which follow 100% humane practices when they rescue and care for hundreds of elephants like Baby Chaba (unlike other less ethical institutions that still use chains and aren’t as invested in the elephants’ well-being). In addition to observing the incredible work that Chailert and her team have done, McKean and her daughter were also exposed to the harsh realities of elephants that have not been as lucky as those thriving at the sanctuaries. On the last day of the trip, the mother-daughter duo stopped by a popular “riding camp” where elephants are chained and treated horribly with bull hooks. Witnessing this abuse firsthand served as a painful but powerful reminder of why The Elephant Project is doing the work it does to help bring an end to such cruelty. To further amplify and bolster that mission, McKean made sure to connect with other like-minded leaders and animal rights organizations while in Thailand to help spread awareness of the unthinkable conditions behind elephant tourism, while promoting ethical traveling and tourism on a global scale.

About The Elephant Project

The Elephant Project is a female-founded philanthropic toy company that has successfully helped save hundreds of elephants worldwide by donating proceeds from hand-designed stuffed animals to aligned organizations that directly benefit the toys’ real-world counterparts. Founded by Kristina McKean in 2017 after a lingering firsthand encounter with neglected baby elephants in Thailand, The Elephant Project launched its first cuddly products and accompanying educational materials out of Santa Barbara, CA. By donating 100% of net proceeds from any purchase to trusted organizations that help fight the poaching crisis and provide care to injured, abandoned, orphaned, and abused elephants (including The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Elephant Nature Park, The Elephant Cooperation and Trunks Up Foundation), The Elephant Project assures customers that their money is making a significant contribution and direct impact on the lives of elephants at home and abroad. To date, Kristina and The Elephant Project have helped aid in the rescue and protection of hundreds of elephants, while fostering numerous orphaned elephants and delighting families the world over with their adorable Kiki, Tembo an Baby Chaba plushies.

To learn more, make a purchase, or initiate a donation, please visit and/or follow on socials: Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.

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