We see elephants as gentle and caring giants in the animal kingdom. Between zoos, circuses, and other popular events, these beautiful creatures are often used for human entertainment.
Thong Bai was one of these mistreated creatures.
Elephants are highly regarded in Thailand. Thong Bai is a legendary Thai bull elephant whose fame has been used to entertain tourists for over 40 years.
Lek Chailert, the founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, is an advocate for rescuing and saving elephants. He keeps the public informed about elephants like Thong Bai on his Facebook page, often updating everyone on his story.
“More than forty years he has served people, and he deserves his freedom,” Lek wrote in one post.
Finally, many years later, Thong Bai has been freed.
A privately owned elephant, Thong Bai was previously used for countless advertisements. He can be seen in beer ads, films, and very often at weddings.
The elephant is being taken care of in Surin province, and a year before the animal’s release, Lek brought Khun NuNa Silpa-archa to the province to see Thong Bai and other elephants.
The guest saw Thong Bai’s former life and how majestic his presence was, and she made a decision to help elephants in need. It was her that worked tirelessly to get the beautiful elephant free.
Khun NuNa Silpa-archa worked hard to unchain the elephants she met. She succeeded a year later.
The owner of the animal and the activists fighting for his freedom reached an agreement where the owner would allow the elephant to roam freely in an enclosure.
His new home would be a part of the Surin Project, which works to provide improved living conditions for working elephants and the economic situations of their mahouts.
The community helped to build Thong Bai a shelter and to get him ready to be released into the area. The Surin government took care of the land and the Thai Beverage company helped fund the construction.
Now, the elephant has a strong home where he can comfortably roam around safely. He no longer wears chains or is forced to work. His enclosure has plenty of mud and shade in addition to a fountain and a large amount of open space.
“The day that everyone longed for has finally arrived. Over four decades of shackles and at last release,” writes Lek. “Thong Bai, the Legend of Surin, is free from his chains. We welcomed him to his new home today. He appeared uncertain and nervous of his new freedom and even shy to explore without being told what to do.”
We have repeatedly drawn attention to the harsh reality of elephants that are forced to live their lives to entertain humans.
No animal deserves to be confined and tortured for our entertainment. Please share this to spread this important message so that more are engaged in the issue.