The Zoological Park Organization of Thailand
1,221ha (7633 rai / 3,017ac)
Surin Province, Thailand
2011 (masterplan)



The Elephant Kingdom project was proposed in National Park land damaged by land encroachment and drought. The land had traditionally been used for elephant food harvesting over many centuries and was one of the reasons why elephant domestication had developed in the area.


The primary aim was to stop elephant’s and the manhouts moving to cities in order to support them.

The ‘Kuai’ people have been a traditional elephant raising community in the NE region of Thailand for centuries with a symbiotic relationship to their elephant’s whom they consider family members. The project was specially proposed to support the ‘Kuai’ community in the area.

The study included research into the traditional relationship between the community and their elephants, community public hearings, study of similar developments and facilities and briefing from the Provincial Government and Zoological Park Organization.

It was found that the families and their elephants preferred to stay in the local community, but found moving to the city necessary due to insufficient food availability due to drought and deforestation.

Research found that if all of the community returned to the area there would potentially be 300 elephants involved in the project. If sufficient food and water could be provided, the project had potential to become the largest elephant village in the world.

Design Program

Four key items were identified:

  1. To provide sufficient food and water to support the local community to return.
  2. After their return a large concentration of domestic elephants would create a tourist attraction for the region, potentially the largest in the province.
  3. To develop ecotourism with a ‘travel & learn’ theme, including facilities such as a Museum about the ‘Kuai’ people and their elephants.
  4. Sub projects to support the return and associated tourism to include an elephant retirement sanctuary, hospital, factory for processing dung into fertiliser and power and hotel facilities.

P.L. Design’s final role was to develop the master plan incorporating these elements and potentially create the largest self-sufficient elephant village in the world.