Health and wellness

Top model offers a different beauty and wellness tip: spend some time with cats, dogs … or elephants

Model Kelly England Prehn recently visited the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary on World Elephant Day. She explains why taking care of animals is good for your health and can make you a more beautiful person

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 3:46pm

Since being discovered by Models One in Covent Garden at the age of 16, former top model Kelly England Prehn has worked with the best make-up, beauty and health experts in the world.

When asked for health tips, the usual advice given by a model is to choose a green juice diet, take complex vitamins, or practise daily yoga.

However, Prehn’s top tip for health and wellness is spending time with animals. To celebrate World Elephant Day on August 12, she travelled to the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary founded by the ‘Elephant Whisperer’ Lek Chailert.

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Why do you recommend everyone to spend time with animals?

People are now looking for ways to connect more to nature, and health and beauty really come from the inside. Spending time with animals is very relaxing and can improve your mood instantly. When you spend time to form a bond of trust, love and respect with animals, it is one of the most satisfying things you can do. Children have this instinct and it’s great to nurture it at any age.

What was it like at the sanctuary?

It was an amazing experience, and as Phuket’s first truly ethical elephant sanctuary, you know that just by choosing to go there you are supporting these gentle animals being well cared for. It is a whole new way of animal conservation. Where every person chooses to spend their time and money has a big impact. All the elephants are there to rehabilitate from very difficult lives as ‘entertainment’ (performances, rides, treks) in the tourism industry.

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You get to learn how to observe elephants whilst they are going about their favourite activities, like swimming in the lagoon and chewing on fresh tropical leaves. I now really regret that I rode on elephants and bathed with them many years ago, as I have since learned that the training involved is brutal. No animal-lover would support that knowingly. Since 2014 I have been supporting Lek Chailert’s work to change the elephant entertainment industry for the better. Watching the elephants and hearing about their different personalities is magical and awe inspiring. I left on a high, excited to learn more.


How do the fashion world and the love of animals coexist?

Well, fashion is fast paced, with artistic designers and high-pressure merchandisers running around creating trends. Spending time with animals, either elephants or pets at home including dogs and cats, keeps you in touch with nature and what really matters.

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Actually a lot of fashion people are animal superfans. For example, the photographer Alexi Lubomirski who recently shot Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is a vegan and also celebrated Versace's recent promise to stop working with fur. We all need constant inspiration, and animals are both beautiful to look at and wonderful company.


What animals do you have?

I have a dog named Winston and three cats – all adopted from shelters and all very happy and spoiled. The cats are in charge and they have their own hierarchy – honestly watching them together is better than a soap opera.

Studies have shown that just sitting with an animal releases oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’. Pets have been found to make us calmer by lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They can also help regulate blood pressure.


How do you suggest people spend more time with animals if they do not have pets?

There are incredible animal organisations in Hong Kong that love visitors and volunteers, like Hong Kong Dog Rescue. Or you can befriend your neighbours’ dog, and ask if you can look after them sometime. With one third of visitors to Phuket now coming from Hong Kong and China, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is great for all ages. Once you get hooked on the love of animals you will always want them in your life.