How Peanuts Taught Me A Life Lesson

We recently took the kids on a trip around Sri Lanka. This is not about the trip, but you can read about that here, it is an amazing country. Anyway, what this is about is, how I and many others, got caught up a great big peanut scam and in the process, learnt a valuable life lesson.

Whilst on our travels around the country, we heard about an elephant sanctuary. There’s a lot been said recently about the treatment of the animals in these places and now riding elephants etc is pretty much considered a social no-no, and rightly so. We had heard some good things about this place though, so headed off in that direction.

We wondered if they would get the opportunity to feed them here, that would surely be on any small child’s bucket list, wouldn’t it?

As we pulled up, we were greeted with the inevitable stalls selling drinks, snacks, the usual tat, but also…. small bags of peanuts!!


‘YES! The hawkers have hundreds of bags of peanuts for sale, the kids are going to love this.

A busload of tourists pulled in just after us. Classic sightseers, all with huge cameras around their necks and wearing socks with open-toe sandals.

In the rush, we found ourselves at the back of a long queue to buy these peanuts.

They were flying off the shelves but luckily we managed to pick up a couple of bags.

We all then get herded through the ticket booth and towards a seating area. Everyone takes their seat, eagerly clutching their bag of peanuts, both kids sat waiting and ready telling me they want to feed the ‘baby elephant’

A few minutes later, on the grass in front of us, a few elephants appeared from behind the trees…

elephant transit home

….then a few more arrived…

elephant transit home

…then a few more…

elephant transit home

….until about 40 of them are lined up. Can’t get moved for elephants now!  

Everyone is excited.

But then I look just down in front of me, there’s a small river and a fence separating the seating area from the action.

‘How and when do we get across to feed the elephants? Come on, don’t you know we all have peanuts!’

……It basically turns out, we don’t…..

The guys working there go out with buckets of milk and leaves, place them in the centre of the elephants and let them feast.

And that’s it.

It’s all been one big peanut scam!

There was never going to be an opportunity to feed them, we’d been conned! Whilst the cost of this supposed elephant food was pennies (or peanuts) that didn’t matter, it was the principle.

No one gets one over on me.

But just before they all get a piece of mind, I started thinking, what did these hawkers do wrong?

Did they tell us that we could feed the elephants?


Did they have signs up advertising it that the peanuts were for the elephants?


Did the bags have ‘elephant food’ written on?

They did not

They were just selling peanuts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! People eat peanuts.

I mean, you don’t go into a supermarket, buy some bananas and then demand to see a monkey, do you?

monkey supermarket

They played us all. They played on how gullible people are and how when given the chance to do something a little bit of the ordinary, we all get excited and all judgement and rationale goes out the window, I didn’t see one person ask, ‘can you feed the elephants?’

In fact, I can’t imagine these sellers have ever been asked that question.

My anger quickly faded; these guys deserve a medal!!

They have spotted an opportunity and exploited it, yeah it was a bit sneaky but good on them!

I definitely don’t want this £0.50 wasted to be in vain though so I just hope others will learn from my mistake.

I’m still refining the terminology of the life lesson I’ve promised you all, but it goes something like this….

Don’t assume anything until you have all the facts and if you do find yourself in an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka, don’t buy peanuts…unless you’re hungry!

I might make a meme of this peanut scam and stick it on Facebook. It’s pretty catchy so it’ll no doubt go viral within a day.

elephant meme

I am a stay at home Dad, from England, living in Malaysia. Talking about how we survive the heat, the cultural differences, the lifestyle changes, the travel and lots more challenges that being a stay at home Dad in a foreign country brings.

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