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A Note From Emily

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

‘If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever’


On Wednesday 30th August 2017 Mae Mor laid down to sleep in her night enclosure in the early hours of the morning and slipped into an eternal rest. Tomorrow it will be 1 week since her passing, it’s taken me time to find the words to write this piece because the tears just keep flowing.

Back in March we introduced you to Mae Mor for the first time, we wanted to bring Mae Mor home to BEES so she could get the love, care and freedom she deserved. We met Mae Mor 4.5 years ago working as a trekking elephant in a camp in the north of Chiang Mai. She was underweight and suffering from poor digestion. At the time the camp owner was not very welcoming and we were not able to get information on her owners. We left, but never stopped thinking about her.

We were finally able to track down the owners earlier this year who told us that they were teachers and simply did not have time to look after an elephant, which is why she was staying in the camp. They said they would be honoured if we could take her to retirement, where she would no longer work and could receive the love and care she needed. Mae Mor had become too weak to work and was left chained in a field in the scorching hot sun. Mae Mor, who was aged at roughly 70 years old, was severely underweight, her teeth very worn, was malnourished, covered in abscesses & weeping wounds and suffering from a number of health problems as a result.  She had been placed with an inexperienced young Burmese Mahout that was scared of her and felt he needed to use weapons to protect himself.

Spiked ankle bracelet

Mae Mor was forced to wear a spiked bracelet in the camp.



Mae Mor at the camp before her rescue












We were absolutely horrified by her condition and we knew we had to try to save her. There were a couple of people that made the passing comment that we were wasting our time and energy, even making the suggestion we should help younger healthier elephants that would live longer. This upset us greatly. Why? Because we are an organization that believes all lives matter and that all lives are equally as deserving. We knew we had to help her, we couldn’t leave her to perish in the scorching hot field, covered in wounds, not getting fed an appropriate diet and left to spend her nights in pain, alone. She was not going to be forgotten.

mae mor abscess in camp

Mae Mor had wounds and abscesses everywhere



Mae Mor’s Dung












The BEES team immediately swung in to action and started Operation- Bring Mae Mor Home.

March 27th 2017 was the day our poorly Mae Mor was rescued and moved to BEES.


Mae Mor getting a health check by TECC vets at the District Livestock office in Chiang Mai



Mae Mor on the road to freedom










Mae Mor arrived at BEES in the late evening but by the morning of March 28th, for the first time, this sweet, frail, old elephant was able to be chain-free and had the ability to make her own choices and just be an elephant. She was so highly strung and it proved difficult to treat her in the beginning because she was confused, weak and in pain. She had no idea who we were and what her new life was all about. Her enclosure became her safety net and despite leaving the gate open for many days she stayed inside the enclosure,  too afraid to explore. After about 3 weeks she started to build the confidence to investigate past her enclosure and soon after was going out on forest walks and exploring the grass fields. She enjoyed spending her days dusting and mud bathing and doing all things elephants should do. She would return to her night enclosure in the afternoon to specially prepared food treats designed to help with her digestion and absorption. While she enjoyed eating these treats she learned to trust her caring mahout and began to accept treatments without too much fuss. Her wounds and abscesses were able to be cleaned daily and she started to heal.

Thong Dee, another elderly elephant retired at the sanctuary, tried to make friends with Mae Mor, but, in the beginning she did not allow her to get too close. She would move away very quickly. Over time Mae Mor allowed Thong Dee to stand closer and they would often be seen in the fields only meters apart.


Thong Dee trying very hard to make friends with Mae Mor.


On August 9th, 2017 she had spent the day out exploring along the stream and forest edge with her mahout following her to keep her safe. When she returned she was seen sneaking a piece of sugarcane by the volunteers. About 15 minutes later she began to show signs of discomfort and started regurgitating. She was taking water in her trunk and spraying the inside of her mouth constantly, then spitting it back out. She went off her food and she continued to regurgitate anything she put in her mouth and it became very clear that she was in a lot of trouble. The veterinarians from the TECC (Thai Elephant Conservation Centre Hospital) were called and drove out to attend to her. Based on her symptoms it was diagnosed that an esophageal obstruction was causing her great discomfort. Under the guidance of TECC veterinarians, our Vet Nurse Diana and our team started treating her with antacids, anti-inflammatories, pain relief,  IV and rectal fluids, support therapy, laser therapy, electrolytes and vitamins to help keep her body’s needs in order. We spoke to a number of experts, both locally and internationally. The prognosis was not good. Due to her age and already compromised condition she had become anaemic and blood work showed she had kidney disease. We worked around the clock to ensure that Mae Mor was getting the best care possible and to hopefully get her past this. The Thai veterinarians believed she was too old and the risks too high for sedation to explore further, but suggested we use pressured water flushes in her mouth and continue IV and rectal fluid therapy so she would stay strong in the hope her body would be able to resolve the problem itself and push the obstruction through. We were repeating her blood work every few days to make sure that we were keeping on top of her condition.


IV Fluid Therapy



Mae Mor enjoying a walk between treatments and Support Therapy









After 12 days of no improvement and countless discussions with all our veterinary contacts, we felt that we needed to make changes to the treatment plan so that she could have more quality time and we could reduce her stress levels. We started our days earlier and finished later, doing fluid therapy and medications in the early hours of the morning then freeing her to walk and explore, then we would bring her back in the late afternoons for further fluid therapy, more medications and treatments. Incredibly her blood work started to improve, her kidney enzymes were showing improvements and she started to try to eat again. Her will to live blew the minds of many veterinarians and our staff, she was so full of fight, a fight we have never seen before.


Mae Mor having a dust bath in her enclosure

On August 29th 2017, 20 days after she started showing distress, she had her morning fluid therapy and treatments and then spent the day out wandering the sanctuary, the same as the previous few days. That afternoon something beautiful happened. She took a stroll up the mountain that overlooks BEES with her mahout Aum following her in awe of her strength and will. She stood, resting her trunk for nearly an hour by the grave of Boon Yuen, an elderly elephant that had died there over two years ago.

She returned to her night enclosure for further fluid therapy, medications and treatments

Mae Mor laid down to rest in the early hours of the morning on August 30th 2017. She closed her eyes as she lay in the soft sand bed of her night enclosure, she drifted off into a heavy sleep that would last for eternity.


BEES Co-Founder Emily grieving the loss of Mae Mor, Rescued dog Shadow sits quietly behind watching on.

We were able to confirm Mae Mor was suffering from an esophageal obstruction amongst a number of other health complications. Her increasing anaemia and other corresponding blood work sadly could not rule out cancer.

Mae Mor was a remarkable elephant, she had endured so much pain in her long life, her worn, frail body had been through far too many hardships. We had no idea 4.5 years ago that we would be able to bring her home to BEES. Although very compromised, we had watched her go from a highly strung elephant to an elephant that was gaining a lot of trust with her new human caretakers. In a short amount of time she had built a lot of confidence and enjoyed strolling through the forest with her head held high, having the ability to just be an elephant. As sad as we are to have lost Mae Mor, she stands by what we believe in, that every life deserves a chance and no one should be left behind, Mae Mor will always be in our hearts, never to be forgotten.


Mae Mor at eternal rest in her night enclosure, the tractor had arrived to move her to the burial site.

Mae Mor was laid to rest with a Buddhist Burial ceremony. During the preparations and while we were waiting for the Abbott monk to arrive a beautiful dainty yellow butterfly flew around her body, maybe it was Boon Yuen’s embrace.


The Abbott Monk blessing Mae Mor’s spirit




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BEES Co-Founder Burm praying for Mae Mor’s spirit to be free


Her soul was blessed and she was buried on the mountain where she had stood with her mahout the afternoon before. Her mahout felt that she gave him a sign, that she had chosen the spot she wanted to be – up on the hill beside Boon Yuen. There are now two beautiful wise old souls at rest on the mountain that overlooks BEES.


BEES Co-Founder Emily says Goodbye to Mae Mor.



Mae Mor is buried on the mountain next to Boon Yuen, we now have two wise old elephants watching over BEES










We would like to say a very big Thank you to Dr. Erica of WAWI Outreach ( for making two seperate trips to visit us with donations of supplies for Mae Mor and offering her support and advice.


Thank you Dr Erica of WAWI Outreach for bringing two loads of wonderful donations.

We would also like to thank the Thai Elephant Conservation Center Veterinarians for their donations and their guidance and for always sending their mobile clinic veterinarians out when needed and coming with donations and supplies. We are grateful for their constant medical support and guidance for the elephants at BEES and for the service they provide for Asian Elephants across the country.

Lastly, but just as importantly, we would like to Thank all of our supporters who donated towards Mae Mor’s rescue and on going medical care. With your help we were able to give Mae Mor the chance to be an elephant again.


 If you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation so we can continue to provide sanctuary to these magnificent animals.


Donate here on Simply Giving:

Together we can make a difference!


Warm Regards,

Emily and The BEES Team xx

All photo’s © BEES Elephant Sanctuary


Operation- Bring Mae Mor Home

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

On March 13th we launched Operation – Bring Mae Mor Home and on the 27th March we did just that!!!

Mae Mor working in the camp

Mae Mor working in the camp in Mae Taeng

Burm and I found Mae Mor 4 years ago living in appalling conditions. We set out on a mission to bring her home to BEES.

It took all this time to track down the owner as the camp managers were not forthcoming with the information. We finally found the owner earlier this year, we went to check on Mae Mor and she had deteriorated to the point where the camp could not work her, so they just chained her in the hot sun all day. Most recently, she had been paired with an inexperienced, teenaged Burmese mahout that has no background working with elephants and was clearly scared of her, as a result he used weapons to protect himself. This is all too common in camps throughout Asia, in time with our efforts we hope that we can also improve the training and general welfare of the mahouts.

Mae Mor preparing to leave the camp

Mae Mor preparing to leave the camp

We are simply horrified by the wounds covering her body, inflicted by what we can only presume are nails, although the mahout was also seen carrying an axe. We approached Mae Mor’s owners to discuss what their intentions would be with the money if we were to negotiate a price for Mae Mor’s permanent retirement at BEES. The owners told us that they are teachers and simply do not have time to look after an elephant, they would like the funds to better their own livelihoods. They felt sad for her and said that they would be honoured if we could take her to retirement, where she would no longer work and could receive the care she needs. The BEES team immediately swung in to action and started Operation – Bring Mae Mor Home, we paid a deposit to the owner and we started fundraising and making plans for her big move.

Unfortunately, funds only trickled in and we felt that time was running out, Mae Mor was deteriorating and she needed us now. She had lost the sparkle in her eyes, her painful body was covered in wounds and large abscesses. We couldn’t wait any longer, so we had to use project funds that are for the general daily upkeep for the sanctuary to Bring Mae Mor Home to BEES. We hope that with your help we can replenish these funds so we can continue to provide Mae Mor with medical treatments and look after the elephants and animals at BEES. Please consider making a donation via Simply Giving – Click Here.


Mae Mor's Owner Khun Nipon hands us Mae Mor's Paperwork after final payment was made.

Mae Mor’s Owner Khun Nipon hands us Mae Mor’s Paperwork after final payment was made.

 On Monday 27th March we set out early to make the remainder of the payment to the owners and finalize paperwork which included transfer of ownership documentation and livestock transport clearances. When we arrived at the camp we found that Mae Mor had been moved into the shade of a small forested area, her owners concerned for her welfare had told the camp to move her immediately to shade right after we had expressed our concerns to them. They had not been able to visit Mae Mor for quite some time and had no idea of the state she was in. Mae Mor was walked down to the river where her young Burmese mahout gave her a bath, pulling her ankle bracelet that had spikes digging into her leg to make her come.

Mae Mor having a bath before her big move, she had a spiked ankle bracelet on that was used to guide her

Mae Mor having a bath before her big move to BEES, she had a spiked ankle bracelet on that was used to guide her

The spiked bracelet used to guide her in the camp

The spiked bracelet used to guide her in the camp


We fed her yummy treats, the owners gave her a farewell blessing and banana’s they had brought from their village to say their Goodbyes, they had smiles on their face to see her going to retirement, but also tears in their eyes. Mae Mor was loaded on to the truck around 4pm and set off for the district livestock office where the vets from Thai Elephant Conservation Centre hospital met us and together with the Livestock department gave a health check and cleared her for the journey. Mae Mor’s age is uncertain but she is believed to be in her late 60′s, possibly early 70s.

It was a long journey home. Elephants cannot be transported through the national park, our normal route, because the roads are too narrow and windy. We were forced to travel around the Doi Inthanon mountain which takes 2.5 hours longer. She arrived to BEES in the late evening where she walked happily off the truck and down the driveway to her new “home”.

Mae Mor heading home to BEES

Mae Mor heading home to BEES

Mae Mor spent the first day in the grass fields recovering from the big journey, no more spiked ankle bracelet and off the chain, she was very anxious, she enjoyed being in the fields alone, in the afternoon we used yummy treats like watermelon, banana, chopped up pumpkin and vitamin packed horse pellets to get her to the medical shelter and night enclosure. Mae Mor is still very anxious and we are slowly working to treat her and get her used to her new surroundings. She is in a lot of pain with her abscesses and on the truck ride home she could barely put her tail down, it seemed as though she couldn’t bare it rubbing on any of the support beams, she didn’t want it to touch anything. We had noticed a small wound there earlier but when we stopped to check her over, we soon realized it was another large abscess across the tail bone where it meets the base of the spine, it had erupted. Seeing Mae Mor in so much pain is heartbreaking, she is reluctant to explore and she seems quite frightened of people, with good reason as it seems humans have so badly damaged her, we have a lot of work to do to regain her trust.

Her tail abscess drainage point

Her tail abscess, you can see the wound/ drainage point

 Thong Dee has so graciously allowed Mae Mor to stay in her night enclosure, which is next to the medical shelter, while Mae Mor receives treatment and gets used to her new life here.

 Mae Mor was bought by the family about 25 years ago and worked as a logging and farming elephant up until about 10 years ago when she was moved to work in tourism, she has stayed in Mae Taeng area, notorious for its many elephant camps since. Her owners Khun Nipon and his wife, and brother are happy to see her retired.


Herbal medicine to help relieve pain, swelling and draw out the puss on Mae Mor's abscess covered body

Herbal medicine to help relieve pain, swelling and draw out the puss on Mae Mor’s abscess covered body

Mae Mor's Abcsess in her face

Mae Mor’s Abcsess in her face which is one of many on her body, receiving treatment with herbal compress and iodine flushes

We will take it at her pace and hope that she will come out of her shell and learn to trust us.  She has not yet shown interest in the other elephants and they haven’t yet shown interest in her.

Mae Mor enjoys her shredded food

Mae Mor enjoys her shredded food. Mae Mor has poor digestion so we are making changes to her diet so she can pass her food easier.

Thank you all for your kind donations and support that helped us bring Mae Mor here, we still have a way to go to replenish the funds that we borrowed from the project to bring her home.

Please consider making a donation via Simply Giving:

OR Via Bank Transfer to the BEES Elephant Foundation Bank (Please PM us so we can be sure to issue a receipt once things have settled down for Mae Mor)

Donate via Bank Transfer:

ACCT #: 006 3 31743 8
LOCATION: 45 Moo 4 Charoenniran , Amphur Maechaem, Tambon Chang Keung, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50270


Together we can really achieve amazing things, Thank you for helping us Bring Mae Mor home!

Warm Trumpets and Grumbles of Thanks,

Emily, Burm and all of the BEES Team x





A Note From Emily – ‘BEES need your help to go chain free for the elephants at BEES!’

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

Slowly, but surely we can make a difference! Patience, Passion, Compassion and Commitment to love, respect and protect our natural world and all that’s in it.

We are well into 2016 and have been working away on the project taking things day by day, week by week. Running a sanctuary isn’t easy and we face many struggles, have many tears of happiness and sadness, but we continue to do what we do because we want to see positive change.

A very old and tired trekking elephant. Note: This is not taken at BEES and was taken in a camp in Chiang Mai

A very old and tired trekking elephant. Note: This is not taken at BEES and was taken in a camp in Chiang Mai. BEES work tirelessly to educate and bring an end to the abuse and exploitation of these gentle giants.

Since establishing BEES in 2011 and retiring our first elephants in 2012 we have been working away building the project and facilities, spreading the word and trying to make a positive difference for the elephants, animals and community. It is our dream to see an end to the exploitation and abuse of elephants and animals in Thailand, the captive elephant situation is extremely complex and cannot be fixed overnight, step by step we work to improve welfare and work towards positive change.  With your help, through donations, volunteering with us and by spreading the word, we have been able to provide a home and refuge to many animals and help support 3 elephants to live in a more natural setting.

We believe that in order to improve welfare for elephants we also need to teach locals to have love and respect for all animals and the environment they live in.


Tree planting on the Mae Tan Temple land with the Forestry Department and the Local Government Education Department

At BEES we run community education programs e.g. English teaching, tree planting and environmental awareness. Here we had a Tree planting day with the local community and members of the Forestry Department and the Local Government Education Department We believe EDUCATION is the key!


For those of you who recently began following BEES we currently run a small community based elephant retirement and animal rescue and rehabilitation project, have 18 rescued dogs, over 30 rescued cats, run sterilization programs and community based animal support programs and have three retired elephants in our care, 2 of these elephants BEES own Mae Kam and Thong Dee and were purchased from owners who have now retired themselves, the third Elephant Mae Jumpee is rented from her owners. Where we are unable to buy elephants we provide an alternative income to owners (rent) so that the owners can have a much needed income to provide for their families and the elephants can receive rest care and hopefully long term retirement in a more natural setting free from work and abuse WIN- WIN.

BEES work to bring an end to further trade and refuse to take part in the purchase of an elephant if the funds will be used to replace the elephant with a younger stronger elephant, that’s why in some cases we rent the elephants to work with the owners and encourage better care for their elephants.  


Rescued pup Mollie was badly beaten and has needed hydro therapy to help with her rehabilitation. Since her rescue over 3 years ago now, Mollie has learnt to take small steps and has improved greatly.

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee have been best friends since day one of meeting after retiring at BEES. Mae Kam was retired to BEES initially under contract on the 31st May 2012, since her retirement we have been able to permanently secure Mae Kam with the help of many amazing donors across the globe, Mae Kam is now a permanent resident at BEES and her owners are now semi-retired and run their own tomato farm, 2.5 months after Mae Kam’s retirement to BEES we were able to secure an agreement with Mae Jumpee’s owners to allow her to retire at BEES too. The initial contract for Mae Jumpee being 1 year, near 4 years later and Mae Jumpee continues to thrive and spend her days in sanctuary after meeting Mae Kam on the 16th August and bonding with her instantly. These two elephants are inseparable and it’s so rewarding to see them together after long, hard working lives to be able to interact freely, to graze together, explore the forest together, bath together and do everything they want together.  This year will be their 4 year anniversary of friendship and retirement. This for us is a huge achievement as when we started BEES we had no idea where it would take us, we just dreamed of creating a safe and natural home for elephants. Taking the first steps to retire them from work and remove the trekking baskets and allow them to live as naturally as possible and roam freely in the day time was a dream come true in itself, but one thing that has been stopping us from reaching the ultimate goal of no more chains completely and no longer having to secure them in the evenings has been lack of funding and support, it’s taken years to get to where we are today and we have always wanted to get rid of the chains and with your help we believe we can reach this goal and together achieve another great step for the elephants. We started the fundraiser to build the chain free elephant night enclosures in November 2015 and still have a long way to go, with your help we can reach our goal!

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee enjoy a feast to celebrate Mae Jumpees 1 year at BEES

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee bonded from day 1 – True love and friendship

Currently the elephants spend their days roaming freely and in the evenings have to be secured by a single length chain to keep them safe and stop them from wandering onto nearby farms and raiding crops in the dark. Locals will not hesitate to cause harm to the elephants if their crops and livelihoods are at stake. Unfortunately, captive elephants need to be kept in a safe and secured area to some degree in order to protect them. That’s why we wish to build chain free night enclosures with their own ponds and shelter to keep them safe and as comfortable in the evenings and continue to free them in the forest during the day,  giving them 24 hour freedom.

In all honesty elephants shouldn’t be in captivity period, but unfortunately due to human need and greed we now have to find ways to manage the captive populations and do the best we can to put their welfare first.  

In November 2014 Thong Dee was retired alongside her best friend Boon Yuen – The Golden Girls, they had spent the last 30 years working together in tourism after their owner bought them from the brutal logging industry.  There owner Poor Tawee worked long hard days with them and when they were ill camped out under the stars to nurse them back to health. In the last few years before he retired them to BEES, he noticed them both deteriorating in health and longed for a better life for them. When his father passed suddenly in October 2014 he was faced with a horrible decision to leave his girls and go to care for his mother who lived several hours away, knowing Thong Dee and Boon Yuen were too old to make the journey across the country to his Mothers town, he had to make the decision to retire them. He had found out about BEES through friends of Mae Jumpees family and felt that BEES would be the most appropriate solution. He was not ready to say good bye completely so it was originally agreed that BEES would pay him a monthly income to support his family while his elephants got to spend their days free from work interacting, socializing, grazing and just doing what elephants do best.

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The Golden Girls Thong Dee and Boon Yuen enjoy specially made treats

He cried when he left his Golden Girls to move to be with his mother and he returned to help nurse them back to heealth when they were sick.  On the 29th July 2015 Boon Yuen closed her eyes for the last time after struggling with very poor digestion for many years. We had made great changes to her diet and she looked the best she had ever looked since arriving at BEES. The day Boon Yuen passed, she was surrounded by so many that loved her, she left behind her grieving friend Thong Dee and a devastated owner Poor Tawee. Poor Tawee instantly decided that Thong Dee should never leave BEES and the burial place of her best friend Boon Yuen, he asked us if we would buy Thong Dee from him so that he could establish an organic Lemon and Lime farm in his mother’s home town and retire there, while Thong Dee enjoyed her retirement and live out her days in a happy, safe environment.



29th July 2015 – As the rain drops fell darling Boon Yuen closed her eyes for the last time, surrounded by many that loved her in her sanctuary. With every breath that we take we strive to give the best we can to the elephants, losing Boon Yuen was by far one of the hardest days yet, we know we will have many more days like this to come and in Boon Yuens memory and all the elephants that have been lost we will continue to fight through the hard times and work to make a positive difference.

Losing Boon Yuen was one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced, we were not ready to say good bye and miss her so much every day, we know we cannot give up because the sparkle we saw in her eyes when she roamed with her best friend without a worry in the world, makes us want to push forward with each breath that we take and strive to give the best that we can to the elephants in our care and work to provide many more elephants with the best life possible.

We believe that no animal should suffer, that no animal should be deprived of their natural abilities and that all animals deserve the right to live in peace and harmony, loved, respected and free from fear and suffering.

We cannot continue our important work without your help and support, we have big dreams and can only achieve great things with your support.

A very pretty Mae Kam reaching for some juicy green vines

Out on a daily forest walk the very pretty Mae Kam reaching for some juicy green vines in the forest not to far away her best friend Maee Jumpee searches out delicious greens the forest has to offer.

Please friends, spread the word, donate, follow our posts and help us reach our fundraising goal so we can achieve this next step and continue to help work to provide the best care we can for the elephants:

Donate Via our Just Giving Campaign:

Donate via PayPal: or visit and click donate now.

Please Note:  This fundraising campaign is being run through BEES Animal Foundation Australia, the Australian support for BEES.

Trumpets, Rumbles and Grumbles of Thanks for your support.

Emily and The BEES Team x

Last Blog post of 2015 – Happy New Year Friends of BEES

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

Happy New Year from The BEES Team!

As 2015 comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to look back on what a year it has been here at BEES!

We started off the year ready for whatever 2015 may hold, we are always ready to work through the obstacles and overcome challenges no matter how hard they may be, even if they are mentally and emotionally draining, we always find a way back on track. This year the challenges were tough and times were hard. In 2015 New Year we had no idea of the twists and turns that 2015 had in store for us. He is a look into our 2015 at BEES.

During 2014 some of our followers will remember it was a huge year with 4 new arrivals to our Sanctuary, 2 were a mother and her calf Kham Mee and Boon, who were joining the program temporarily to receive treatment, rest and care after the calf had severely damaged his eye on a sharp piece of bamboo. The other 2 were the Beautiful Golden Girls Thong Dee and Boon Yuen, who joined the retirement program under a 2 year contract. When they both joined BEES they were very frail, their teeth very worn and digestive systems very damaged.

In early January it was very cold and the newest arrivals the Golden Girls – Thong Dee and Boon Yuen were both very poorly and needed some help to get through the cold wintery nights, one of our incredible supporters Karyn Steele who has since become the Treasurer of BEES Animal Foundation Australia (our Australian Team) quickly gathered together a number of materials and created 2 homemade elephant blanket jackets to take some of the wintery air chill off the backs of the Golden Girls. In January we also invited Burm’s Abbott teacher from Chiang Mai to see the land in which our villagers wished to Build the temple here in Mae Tan, as soon as the Abbott heard of the interest to build the temple he blessed the land and told the spirits he would contact his sponsors from the Bangkok Buddhist society and find the funds needed to start building in March. At the end of January Mother and Calf Kham Mee and Boon on the treatment, rest and care program had to be taken in an emergency to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre Hospital after dear little Boon was showing signs of potential EEHV – Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus which is a fatal hemorrhagic disease. Thankfully little Boon responded well to treatment and it was found that he had likely had an allergic reaction to a plant or insect in which carried toxins and made him very ill, Thank fully it was not the EEHV Virus. He was unable to eat or drink for nearly 3 days and had temperatures and a very severe tongue swelling. Thank fully due to the quick thinking and very well experienced Veterinarians at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre Hospital they were able to save Boon’s life.

Boon Yuen's blockage back in February was a whopping 9.5kg, but in March her friend Thong Dee passed an even bigger blockage of 11kg! This is not good, we have order 3/4 of a Tonne of Tamarinds to act as laxative and fed everyday and are buying in a food shredder so they dont have to do to much work chewing the foods and breaking them down.

Boon Yuen’s blockage back in February was a whopping 9.5kg

At the beginning of February During Kham Mee and Boon’s stay at the hospital another worrying event was unfolding at BEES, one of the newest arrivals Boon Yuen had collapsed and had a intestinal impaction. She stopped eating and drinking. We called her loving owner Poor Tawee and he immediately got on a bus from his new home town where he was caring for his elderly mother and came to be by Boon Yuen’s side to help us get her through these trying times and save her life. On the 10th of February after 72 hours of round the clock care, enemas and trying to get her to eat enough banana’s and watermelons to give her strength we were able to help Boon Yuen safely remove the impaction which was blocking up her intestines and causing her severe pain and discomfort. It weighed in at 9.5kg and her owner was so relieved he stayed one more night to make sure she was well again before returning to his elderly mother that needed him by her side after recently losing her husband and had no one to care for her but Poor Tawee. It took about a week for Boon Yuen to be strong again and she went back to her normal cheeky self, trying to steal pumpkins from the pumpkin room with her friend Thong Dee.

In March Thong Dee gave us a scare when she went off her food and stopped drinking water on the 18th and it took 3 days before she was able to pass a intestinal impaction that was causing her terrible discomfort. On the 20th March Thong Dee was able to pass an 11kg dung. March also was the month we began the building of the Mae Tan Temple with our community and volunteers. Thanks to the help of Burm’s Abbott Teacher and the sponsors from the Bangkok Buddhist society we could finally begin building the long awaited Temple. March was also a month of fighting off many forest fires that threatened the project and our surrounding villager’s farms.

In April we were busily working away on completing the elephant medical shelter in which we began building in October 2014 and finding foraging sites for the elephants after the fires took out most of the elephant’s food sources. In April Mae Jumpee the eldest Elephant in the Retirement Program at BEES returned home to her village for the ‘Muut Muur Suu Kwaam’ which is for the owners to give thanks to the elephants. Mae Jumpee returned to her village for 7 days for the ceremony where she was blessed by the family, they fed her favourite foods over the balcony of the family’s home and spent time chained in the forest between blessing ceremonies, close by to her family. Mae Jumpee was greatly missed by her best friend Mae Kam. Mae Kam was so happy to see her on her return to BEES. Many people ask WHY we ‘allowed’ or ‘let’ Mae Jumpee go, the answer is that we do not own Mae Jumpee we provide the owners with an alternative income and in return Mae Jumpee is allowed to stay at BEES under contract, this contract is resigned every year. If we did not allow Mae Jumpee to go, they could take her away from us for not respecting their culture, sometimes we have to make compromise in order to achieve what is best for the individual elephant so that they can continue to stay in sanctuary. In mid-April we received a touching message from the family members of Burm’s friend Robsy Christiansen who passed away suddenly a few years ago, who told us of Robsy’s wishes. Robsy had written in her Will that she wanted a donation to be made to BEES Elephant Sanctuary in her name. That donation was an incredible 20,000AUD! We were and still are blown away by this incredible act of kindness and made a promise to Robsy’s family that we would use these finds to establish our Thai Foundation and buy more land to help many more elephants.


In May we took a picture of Robsy to Burm’s Buddhist school a place that he had promised he would take Robsy only a few weeks before her passing. Robsy’s spirit was blessed by the head monk at the school and a message of great thanks was passed to Robsy from all of us. We will be forever grateful for Robsy’skind donation and will be able to do so much more for the elephants. On the 22nd May we started up a fundraiser to secure Mae Kam’s freedom. Back in April Mae Kam’s owner came to BEES and requested to take Mae Kam home for the same ceremony Mae Jumpee returned home for. Again, as explained above sometimes we have to make compromise in order to do what is best for the elephants, which is for the elephants to be allowed to come back to BEES. Mae Kam’s owner decided to walk Mae Kam back to his village, he strapped the basket on Mae Kam about 2 hours down the road from BEES, and we had requested he not put the basket on her as she had not worn the trekking basket for 3 years. As soon as he asked her to walk with the basket on she shook him violently off her back- something Mae Kam is known very well for in her previous life in the camps, shacking tourist from her back- we don’t believe the owner ever thought Mae Kam would do this to him, he has always loved Mae Kam. When he fell, he hit his back on the trekking basket breaking vertebrae in his spine and landed face first and splitting his face open and causing serious injury to his eye and head. His son came racing back to BEES on the motorbike to find us to help him get his father to the hospital, the owner Panuu was then transferred to 3 different hospitals to get the care he needed and spent over a week in hospital and many weeks in recovery. Mae Kam’s mahout went to check her and immediately removed the basket and she has not left BEES ever since. Mae Kam’s owner was very angry at Mae Kam for hurting him and decided that it would be best to sell her as he no longer wanted to keep elephants anymore and felt it was a bad omen for their family, the Save Mae Kam Campaign was established to ensure that she was not sold onto a trekking camp and stayed at BEES!

On the 1st June Mae Kam celebrated 3 years of happy retirement at BEES! And on the 3rd June an AMAZING thing happened, in just 13 days the funds to SAVE MAE KAM were raised!!!!! June was a bitter sweet month, we saved Mae Kam and exchanged the funds on the 17th June, but during all the excitement something terrible happened and was completely out of our control! Kham Mee and Boon’s owner had not spoken to us for many weeks, after he had asked us if he could breed Kham Mee at BEES, we advised him that we would NOT be doing anything of the sort and that he should wait as Kham Mee was still feeding her 1 year old calf Boon who had such a traumatic year already. We always knew that Kham Mee and Boon came to BEES under a short-term rest and care contract and was not permanent!  On the 13th June Kham Mee and Boon’s owners ripped Kham Mee and Boon from BEES and walked them back to tourism. We were told they were going to they were going to a ‘non-riding camp’ and that Kham Mee was going for breeding. We have tried to make contact with the ‘non-riding camp’ and rang the owner but no one wanted to update us or answer emails. Although heartbroken at the events and the lack of care or respect for the efforts in which BEES went to, to ensure that Kham Mee and Boon received the care they needed, we MUST continue to educate and raise awareness for the plight of the Asian Elephants and bring an end to cruelty.

Kham Mee and Boon settling at the TECC Elephant Hospital after a long journey and a restless night.

Kham Mee and Boon at the elephant hospital in January. Sadly, they left BEES in June.

In July the building of the temple continued rapidly and we went with our volunteers to help. On the 18th July they had the opening ceremony. A three day ritual and chanting, it was a truly amazing sight and the end result, a beautiful place where all the villagers of Mae Tan can pay respect whenever they wish, to their beloved Buddha. It’s hard to find the words to say how July ended though, because with the end of July came the end of a life of a very much loved elephant. On the 27th July Boon Yuen took a turn, already with a weak immune system and poor digestion Boon Yuen was stung by a wasp while out on a short forest walk the day before. She went off her food and water, she become very tired and weak. Our Team pulled together all her favorite fruits packed with vitamins and medicine to help her get strong again. By the 28th she was already improving and on the morning of the 29th she was looking incredible, she was walking strong, grazing gracefully in the fields and many of the volunteers commented on how well she looked after the previous two days. We had been working around the Medical shelter and around 12.30 headed back to the dining room hut for lunch and saw Boon Yuen had moved up the mountain a little way and was grazing in thick green grass. We had just finished eating lunch when Suvanaan our mahouts wife came running over yelling Boon Yuen is laying down. We were in complete shock become less than an hour before we had seen her looking so wonderful. We ran to her and tried to get her to stand, she took a second fall as she couldn’t hold her weight any longer and died in the afternoon on the 29th July in her sanctuary after 7 months of freedom, surrounded by many that loved her. We miss her every single day and not a day goes by we don’t think about her, she left behind her poorly friend Thong Dee who has not been the same since.

In August we celebrated Mae Jumpee’s 3 years retirement at BEES on the 16th August. But just before we received devastating news less than two weeks after losing Boon Yuen we received a message we had hoped we would never receive, Peter Olliver our dear friend, our supporter and very much loved husband of our Australian Foundation Treasurer Karyn Steele had lost his battle to Cancer. Karyn and Peter have always helped BEES in so many ways since finding out about us, we cannot put into words how much we appreciate their ongoing support. They have been there for us in every hour of need and have sourced some incredible donations for BEES over the years. Losing Peter was like losing a member of our family and we will forever be grateful to Peter for his love and support. In memory of Peter we have used the logo he designed for our newly established Thai Foundation so that Peter’s legacy can live on through BEES for years to come and he can continue with us on this journey in improving elephant welfare and making a positive difference here in Thailand. We miss you every day Peter aka Yellow! See you again someday mate and take care of Boon Yuen for us! We placed candles and yellow flowers on Boon Yuen’s grave and said a special prayer for Peter. August was also the month we started fundraising for Thong Dee, the friend that Boon Yuen left behind. The owner of the Golden Girls decided Thong Dee should never leave BEES and he really needed some help getting his organic lemon and lime farm off the ground. It was decided that we would buy Thong Dee to support Poor Tawee their owner in his mission to create an organic lemon and lime farm. He was so devastated when Boon Yuen died and knew that he needed to work on the farm and leave his last remaining elephant to live in Sanctuary.

September was a month of continued fundraising for Thong Dee and trying to keep Thong Dee healthy. After losing Boon Yuen Thong Dee was quiet, she didn’t graze well and didn’t want to go on forest walks. Slowly she starting eating good amounts again and drinking water, but she has not been the same ever since losing Boon Yuen. She still struggles.

In October things started to quieten down and we worked around the project repairing fences, pampering the elephants and built a brand new spirit house, this time much bigger so that it could also bless the elephant’s spirits also. After Boon Yuen died Burm’s Abbott said that we need a bigger spirit house to protect us, all the staff, the elephants, the animals and the surrounding village people. The spirit house came together very quickly and we now make offerings every day to Ganesha who is placed inside the spirit house.

In November it was a month of articles, posts and preparation for our fundraiser in Brisbane Australia. It was also the month that we raised all the funds for our darling Thong Dee to be permanently retired at BEES and Poor Tawee her owner now has the funds to build his organic lemon and lime farm. Thong Dee enjoyed her 1 year retirement day at BEES on the 22nd of November which we now call her freedom day as Thong Dee is forever a BEES elephant! On the 21st November we had the Brisbane Fundraiser and announced our new project No-More-Chains at BEES, we launched the campaign via Just Giving on the eve of the 21st November. We have raised just over 300AUD on Just Giving and raised around 9000AUD in cash on the eve of the fundraiser. It was a great success but we still have over 50,000AUD to go! Please donate towards the no-more-chains campaign for BEES on Just Giving.

December has been go go go, we went out on a research trip to the elephant camps in the North and announced our newly established Thai Foundation, but most of it was spent preparing for the biggest Christmas to date! Apart from preparing for Christmas it has been a month of cold nights and hot days. Our poorly old girl Thong Dee has been struggling and especially feeling the cold and thankfully this year all our eles have incredible durable, warm and cozy elephant coats made by Diana at The Goat Coat shop and that were fundraised for by Friends of Lucy in Canada. A huge thanks to everyone that donated in order to keep our eles warm this winter. On the 26th December we celebrated Christmas with our amazing community that surrounds BEES. We had great prizes this year for the kids and every person in the village got to take something home. It was lots of fun and there was smiles all around. Thank you to all the volunteers and people abroad who have donated to make this years Christmas as amazing as it was. The last few days have been very hot during the day and very cold at night it has really been shaking our darling Thong Dee around, we have started Thong Dee on vitamin injections to give her a boost.

Lush greenery = Happy Elephants

Thanks for your support during 2015! Much love all the eles at BEES

We didn’t mention about our BEARS animal rescue project in this blog as the blog would surely become 100 pages long ;), all the rescued animals at BEARS are doing well, we have had a few sad losses this year and many sad cases and we will continue to do what we can for the cats, dogs and wildlife in our region. 2016 holds many more sterilizations, treatments and preventative medicine programs and likely more rescues. Bring on 2016, BEARS is ready!

Well friends, it’s the 31st of December and the last day of 2015. As you have just read if your new to BEES, so much has happened, so much has been achieved and there has been a lot of good times and a lot of hard times.

Together standing united as a force for positive change we CAN achieve great things.

We thank each and every one of you for following our work and being believers in BEES.

Let’s continue to work towards a brighter future together through 2016!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!! Speak to you again in 2016!!!!!

With lots of ele love,
The BEES Team xxx


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