The elephant has long played a central role in all aspects of Thai art and culture. In culture, the elephant permeates Thai language, ranging from pithy folk expressions to classical poetry. Thai Buddhism frequently uses the elephant in allegories, particularly in many lovely Jataka tales, where the elephant is nearly always kind and benevolent but sometimes a fierce power to be controlled. Ganesha, the elephant-headed but human-bodied god of Brahminism, has long been revered. The elephant was, before the influence of Western weaponry, a major force in Thai warfare.
The elephant has long figured in the visual arts, particularly in splendid old Thai temple murals but even today as a common symbol in logos and advertising. Thai music and literature also abound with elephant themes.
The heart of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center's link with culture is that is favored with Royal patronage. HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej graciously once visited the TECC's previous home, the Young Elephant Training School. Many other members of the royal family have followed.
The TECC presently cares for six of King Bhumibol's finest "white elephants" in the Royal Elephant Stable.
The TECC is a cornerstone in the evolution of elephant painting. In 1997, two American artists supervised the first artworks painted by elephants ever done in Thailand. Since then, many Thai elephant camps have started painting with their animals as a harmless way to increase revenue while entertaining guests.
The Thai Elephant Orchestra is the first and only effort to have elephants make serious music. As many as 14 elephants have played together on one song. Ever since 2001, when the Orchestra released its first music CD, Thai Elephant Orchestra, the ensemble has received extraordinary attention from the world's media.
Traditional arts are popular among the TECC's staff, with one team playing the beautiful temple drum ensemble (klong sabadchai) and another team performing traditional sword fighting.