Two elephants kept as slaves for eighty years have finally been released, and they are having the time of their life roaming free in Thailand.
The pair – known as Boonme and Buabaan – had been forced to spend a large portion of their lives working in the elephant-trekking trade and in the logging industry. The poor elephants were often forced to work bound in chains, until they collapsed with exhaustion.
Thanks to a major campaign, they were freed from the owners and taken to Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
23-year-old Canadian YouTube blogger and filmmaker Christian Leblanc raised thousands of dollars to assist in the release of the elephants, and thanks to his help, the two elephants now spend most of their days splashing about in mud baths and snacking on their favourite fruits and vegetables.
Hopefully in time, the elephants can move on from their abusive past.
Christian commented on the elephants’ development:
“The elephants couldn’t be happier now. They’ve both made a new best friend named BaiCha and as a trio they’re inseparable… But before we freed them, they would’ve been giving dozens of people rides on their backs every day, to the point where Boonme actually collapsed and had to be lifted by a crane so she could get back to work. That’s when we knew something had to be done.”
It was a long fifteen-hour journey by truck for Christian and his team to reach the elephants, and the journey to transport the elephants back to the nature park took a total of 23 hours, but we’re sure that every hour was worth it.
The rescue was part of a documentary by Christian, in which he attempts to educate people on the cruelty of ‘elephant-trekking’ – a thriving industry in Thailand.
“Like humans, elephants are very social and so they show immense distress when they are treated as they are in the trekking camps and elephant entertainment parks,” Christian says.
“You literally see them swaying back and forth and they will even let our cries of sadness and desperation. It’s truly horrific to see… We hope that by showing people the cruelty that elephants face, we can help end the suffering for these elephants and pave the path to responsible elephant tourism.”