A Farewell and Hello at our Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand

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Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Wednesday, 26th April 2017

Thailand just recently celebrated the arrival of a new year, and we here reflect upon what has been an eventful year for our Elephant Sanctuary in Mae Chaem.

Mae Jumpee and daughter at new camp

In February, the Elephant Sanctuary got the saddening news that the owners of Mae Jumpee wanted her back. Mae Jumpee had been with the sanctuary since 2012 and forged a tight friendship with the other resident elephant, Mae Kam. Our sanctuary tried to make the owners change their minds, and even offered to buy Mae Jumpee from the owners, yet was without success. Fortunately, the owners don’t want Mae Jumpee to work or partake on tourists rides. Thus, she has been reunited at a non-working camp in Mae Wang district with one of her daughters and grandson, where they are part of a hands-on elephant experience camp. In the latest update from the camp, Mae Jumpee seems to be doing fine with her daughter located near a stream and plentiful food source, which is all we hope for.

Around the same time that our sanctuary had to let Mae Jumpee go, they found an opportunity to save another elephant. Her name is Mae Mor and they found her living in appalling conditions at a camp 4 years ago. Since then, it has been the mission of the sanctuary to find a way to bring her home. Earlier this year, they finally got that chance when they found the owners! At this point, the condition of Mae Mor had deteriorated to the point, where the camp no longer could work her. This meant that she just spent her days chained in the hot sun.

So, in Mid-March our sanctuary started the campaign to Bring Mae Mor Home, and on 27th March they did just that! They felt like it couldn’t be postponed any longer, as Mae Mor’s situation was getting worse, so they used all the funds that amazing supporters from around the World had donated. They also had to use project funds that normally are for the general upkeep of the sanctuary. Thus, if you have anything to spare, any amount of money donated on their site would be more than greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Mae Mor before arriving at our Elephant Sanctuary

Mae Mor was bought by the family 25 years ago to work as a logging and farming elephant, up until 10 years ago, when she was forced to work in tourism in one of the many elephant camps in the Mae Thang area, which is notorious for its many camps. Elephant rides unfortunately remain a popular attraction for tourists coming to experience Thailand. Elephants are not naturally born to be able to carry people on their backs. They end up in great physical pain from years of mistreatment and their backs malformed from the rides, not to mention the mental damage that these highly intelligent and social animals also have to endure. Our Elephant Sanctuary tries to end this and change the mentality around using elephants for entertainment in the country by retiring them to their sanctuary. They are then providing another income for the owners, by paying them a monthly rent to have them at the sanctuary. They will not buy an elephant, unless they are sure the money won’t be used to buy a new elephant. 

“Time and time again we are faced with difficult choices and it seems that there is no real answer. We just do what we can, where we can, to help and hope that through the steps we take we can influence positive change. The elephant situation in Thailand is very complex. We hope through education and leading by example we can create positive change” – Emily, Co-founder of the Elephant Sanctuary

Mae Mor is slowly getting less frightened of people, and dares to explore the sanctuary slightly more, yet there is still a lot of trust to be gained. Her owners are all happy to see that she has been retired, and everyone at the sanctuary hopes she will enjoy life there. Our Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand welcomes volunteers for any duration throughout the year, and you can read more about when and how you can join by visiting the project page on our website.

Author: WorkingAbroad Projects

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