My Trip to Thailand to Rescue an Elephant

June 27, 20123 Comments

Many elephants in Thailand are used for forced labor, entertainment, and tourist attractions. All of these elephants must be beaten into submission from a young age, and continued to be abused daily to remain tame for their mahouts. While I was in Thailand, I had the opportunity to rescue one of these elephants out of her horrible life and bring her to Lek Chailert’s Elephant Nature Park, for a life close to the one she would’ve had in the wild.

Her name was Ratree and she had been used for forced breeding programs and for trekking. She was in a horrible mental state from the abuse she had endured her entire life, and she was in horrible physical condition as well. She was blind in one eye and half blind in the other, her hip was broken, and she had many wounds all around her body.

We transported her from where she was working in Surin to the city of Chiang-Mai where the Elephant Nature Park is. When she was released into her freedom at the sanctuary, she took a while to adjust to this new life. She was receiving great vet care for all of her injuries, and the social stimulation from the other elephants at the park was great for her mentally.

Filed in: AllHow I Became An Elephant MovieIssue EducationSanctuariesTourism, Rides & Parades
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  1. CQ says:

    I had such mixed emotions when watching “How I Became An Elephant” last night (courtesy of IDA’s $4.99 two-day offer). I cried with sadness at the horrible parts (luckily, I’d already seen some of them on YouTube, which spared me the initial shock), but I also cried with grateful joy I saw Lek walk toward you and greet you warmly.

    You see, in recent months, I’ve made a concerted effort to learn as much as possible about elephant trekking in Asia, to counter claims made by friends that this industry actually HELPS wild elephants remain in the wild (balderdash!). As a result, I have corresponded a bit with Lek; have steered her and ENP volunteers to an online magazine where they wrote comments on an article involving riding elephants; have donated some meals to ENP elephants; and have talked about Asian elephants to anyone who will listen to me.

    Your decision to free Ratree from her life of abuse, captivity, and endless suffering was such a glorious, noble one. I am grateful to see in you the next generation of Joyce Poole and Lek rolled into one American ele-activist! I could go on forever praising you and your parents, Joyce and Lek, Tim Gorski (what a marvelous job he did, and how I love the name of his production company, Rattle the Cage), and of course all the humans and elephants involved in the making of the film.

    BTW, I recognized a couple of people in the credits rolled at the end, including Veda with That was fun to see her name in lights! Also, I was thrilled to see that Kindness Trust, founded by Australia’s amazing vegan animal activist Philip Wollen, helped sponsor the documentary.

    Tomorrow night I’m having a phone meeting with friends who travel several times a year from their home in the Midwest to Burma to help the Karen tribe. I’ve already told them about your film, and have informed them that some members of their beloved tribe are part of the problem plaguing elephants, so they’ll be prepared for what they see in the movie.

    My little carved wooden elephant from India sends his thanks and hugs along with mine….

  2. Anahid Dominguez says:

    Hi Juliette,

    You are an amazing human being and thank you for doing what you are doing in helping these wonderful animals that need our help. I have cried many tears from the abuse they receive that I hear and read about everyday. It is extremely unfair that they have been suffering so much and all I want to do is just take them out of zoos and circuses and rescue them. I wish there was a way we can shut down zoos and circuses. I do believe we are on a right track. I was there at the ringling brothers with Peta. I have never been close to an elephant, I wish I can just one day hug them and tell them how much I love them.

  3. Donna Dixon says:

    Thank you so much for what you did!d You changed the world for one elephant – for which she and the rest of us are grateful.
    Best Wishes for Ratree in becomeing a new free creature in her new home. Thank you Lek also!

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