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.