Fluffy Finds Freedom!!!

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog



What an EPIC time we have had here recently!

By working in the animal welfare world, we have made the choice to be a part of the uplifting and highly enriching gains and the absolutely devastating losses.  Each day, each week, each month is different and we never really know what is around the corner.

We heard about Fluffy earlier in the year and had been working to find a way to bring her to retirement. It has been a very challenging time for us these past few months with the loss of Mae Mor, but she was never far from our thoughts.

We launched the Elephant Rescue Appeal on Simply Giving to start raising funds to rescue & retire more elephants to BEES Sanctuary on the 27th September. At this time Fluffy was already on our minds. We had been to visit her in the south and dreamed of helping her. We had worried that we wouldn’t be able to raise enough funds to bring her to retirement. Fundraising is not an easy task. Although, we have so many amazing supporters, sometimes we don’t reach our goal when we fundraise through the BEES Elephant Foundation – BEF, meaning we have to pull together funds of our own, creating great strain on our sanctuary finances.

Something AMAZING happened just 48 hours after launching the Simply Giving – Elephant Rescue Appeal! We were approached by Canadian NGO International Wildlife Protection – IWP with a sponsorship proposal to rescue and retire an elephant. We shared Fluffy’s story with IWP and they agreed that Fluffy needed retirement so that she would never have to work again.


Fluffy at work

Fluffy aged at approximately 60 years of age was bought by her owners in the late 1980’s when logging was first banned in Thailand. It was a time when elephant trekking was the only other option for domesticated elephants and having an elephant was seen as a good investment which would bring much needed income to families for their survival.

Khun Ed, Fluffy’s owner has been working with her since he was 12 years old. His father had brought her to the village to work with their family and bring them an income. Recently, they had noticed Fluffy was aging and she had slowed down. She was stiff and had very poor digestion. The family expressed the need to sell her so that it would enable them to resolve their financial debt and set up for the future of their young children, but also, they knew in their hearts that it was time for Fluffy to stop working. They were so happy to know that she would be going to a place of true retirement. Being an elephant owner isn’t always easy, they are only human and for this family they have struggled alongside Fluffy for the last 30 years. Day in and day out they have worked with Fluffy, going from camp to camp and been in high demand to use her as a photo prop for weddings and big ceremonies.


She was given the nickname Fluffy by our Team while we were securing her retirement. From the moment we saw her, we felt she looked like a wooly mammoth and the name Fluffy sort of just stuck due to her unique ‘fluffy like’ features! Her real name is Boon Ruern -which means safe shelter, but for quite some time her owners have been calling her Paa Oowan which is an endearing term meaning –  Our dear Aunty who is big/chubby.

Emily (BEES Co-Founder) looking back at Fluffy giving rides

Emily (BEES Co-Founder) looking back at Fluffy giving rides

The BEES Team swung into action, on the 1st October when we announced publicly Fluffy’s need to retire and the incredible sponsorship from IWP to make it all happen. We launched a campaign on Facebook to raise the extra funds needed for Fluffy’s transport expenses to BEES and began the process of getting through all the hoops to get Fluffy to retirement.

On the 2nd of October a small team from BEES went to see Fluffy to take blood and do a health check to make sure she was well enough to travel the long journey. Although Fluffy has a visibly stiff gait that indicates arthritis and she has been suffering terrible digestion, her blood work came back looking good and she was declared in good health to travel the long journey to retirement.

On the 11th October we were like anxious children on Christmas Eve and just after 3pm we received the call we had been waiting for from the bank…… the sponsorship funds from IWP had been cleared!!!!!


It was time for the adventure to begin! IT WAS TIME TO BRING FLUFFY TO RETIREMENT!!!!!

Doing Paperwork at the livestock department

Burm (Co-Founder) Doing Paperwork with Khun Ed (the owner) at the livestock department

We rounded up our support team and set off just after 6pm on the big overnight journey south.  On Thursday the 12th October at about 10am we finally arrived at the Livestock department near Fluffy’s camp. Feeling absolutely exhausted we did not let that deter us. We had to finalize paperwork for her ownership to be transferred over to BEES Elephant Foundation and get her transport clearances as Friday 13th was a public holiday. We could not waste any time.  During the transfer of ownership both Khun Ed and his wife got very emotional and we could see them getting teary.  It was a very sad thing for them to have to say goodbye to their ‘Aunty’ but a very happy ending after 3 decades of life they have shared with this magnificent animal. After a very long 5 hours and a mere 30 minutes before close of business on the eve of a public holiday, all paperwork was finalized. We left the livestock department and headed straight to see Fluffy.

Fluffy's documents officially signed over to BEF

Fluffy’s documents officially signed over to BEF

 At 4pm, we witnessed Fluffy give her last ride. She walked past us, harnessed with the basket and two tourists on her back, visibly struggling. We watched as the trekking basket came off for the last time and overwhelming emotions took over the team.   Her new mahout Aum stood staring at her in amazement at her beauty with a tear in his eye. He too has never seen such a ‘fluffy’ elephant.

Fluffy giving her last right

Fluffy giving her last ride

Mahout Aum meeting Fluffy for the first time.

Mahout Aum meeting Fluffy for the first time.

Fluffy was now a retired elephant and would never work again!


The trekking basket coming off

The trekking basket coming off

On the way to see Fluffy we received a call from Wimon, the elephant transport truck driver and he advised that he was a bit delayed. He was making a very big journey to transport Fluffy also. It was decided that as we were all exhausted it would be best to get a good night’s rest and start the journey in the morning. We said goodnight to Fluffy for the evening and told her we would be back in the morning to take her to her retirement home. We stayed in a guesthouse nearby, we were all very weary and the sleep was very welcomed. We woke for an early start and headed off to see Fluffy. We received word that big storms where coming, that also came with a flood warning and we could see dark clouds rolling in. We wanted to get out of the camp as fast as possible because the dirt roads may have become difficult to move through. When we arrived at the camp we found Fluffy’s owners preparing her for the big journey. They were speaking to her gently and had set up a small blessing ceremony at the tree by her shelter to keep her safe on her new adventure. Shortly after the transport truck arrived and we begin setting up at the loading station, putting up the signage and attaching protective padding onto the support beams to limit rubbing on Fluffy’s delicate old skin.


Khun Ed bathing Fluffy for the last time


Fluffy’s owners gave her one last bath and then it was time to move her on to the truck. The owners began gently coaxing Fluffy towards the truck with bananas, speaking to her gently and patting her. The day before the family had asked if the father, an elderly man, nearly 70 called Daa Nook, could travel with us on the long journey to make sure she reached her new home safely. Of course we agreed as we felt a familiar face would be much better for Fluffy during this very stressful and confusing time for her. He was also helping call her on to the truck and we believe she found great comfort in this as Fluffy walked onto the truck with great ease. We were very impressed by the gentle coaxing of the family and although Fluffy was very nervous she did not try to run away. She was a very brave girl, maybe she knew what was to come?!

Gentle coaxing Fluffy onto the transport truck with bananas

Gentle coaxing Fluffy onto the transport truck with bananas

Khun Ed patted Fluffy’s rump, stepped out and kneeled behind the truck with his arm resting on the gate that was being locked to secure Fluffy in. His wife stood just behind him watching on. We could feel the emotions radiating from them. Wimon, the truck driver called out that he was ready to go and Khun Ed and his wife stepped back as the father climbed in the truck to go with Fluffy. We told them that we would take care of her and that we would make sure she was safe. We said to them that if they ever have some time that they are most welcome to come to visit Fluffy in her new home. We had quite a beautiful moment sharing a group hug and we all shed some tears. We said our good byes and they watched as Fluffy was driven away and we could see more tears in their eyes.

Khun Ed kneeling behind the truck and his wife standing just behind him, taking a moment to shed a tear

Khun Ed kneeling behind the truck and his wife standing just behind him, taking a moment to shed a tear

The support team went to follow Fluffy closely behind and the long journey had begun. We left the camp grounds at 10 a.m on Friday the 13th October, just in time too. Only half an hour after we left it started to rain on and off for the rest of the journey but we were always ahead of the predicted heavy storms and floods.

The blessing the family had placed to ask the spirits to keep Fluffy safe

The blessing the family had placed to ask the spirits to keep Fluffy safe


Sharing a moment with Khun Ed and his wife before heading off on the long Journey home

Sharing a moment with Khun Ed and his wife before heading off on the long Journey home


On the road to retirement

On the road to retirement

The journey was long but Fluffy did so well despite being very aware of her surroundings, with her eyes wide and ears forward listening to all the noises and taking it all in. There were many stops along the way at veterinary inspection offices as we went through each province. We also stopped to give Fluffy water and treats. At one stage we had to stop to refuel late in the night. The look on people’s faces when they saw an elephant in a petrol station was quite a sight to see! The staff were all taking photos like she was a celebrity!

A stop at the Veterinary Inspectors along the way

A stop at the Veterinary Inspectors along the way

Re-fueling at the petrol station

Re-fueling at the petrol station


We had arrived in the village and had to walk Fluffy off the truck at the local temple, 200metres up the road due to heavy rains making it muddy and too difficult to enter the sanctuary. She did so well.

We arrived in our village just after 5 a.m. Due to heavy rains having muddied up the grounds, we were not able to get the transport truck down to the sanctuary. So, we found a good safe place about 200 meters down the road at the local temple. It was quite incredible watching Fluffy cautiously walking off the truck and so delicately watching where she placed her feet. In the dark fluffy slowly made her way down the path towards her night shelter with her new mahout Aum’s gentle voice guiding her. Visibly exhausted, she had a drink of water straight from the hose and some watermelons that we had chopped the skin off. We sat back and we watched her exploring the night enclosure. Every few moments she would stand motionless resting her tired body but as the sun began to rise she started to give herself a dust bath. Daa Nook, the elderly father, expressed that he was very happy to see Fluffy’s new home.

Fluffy resting in her new night enclosure

Fluffy resting in her new night enclosure

We left Fluffy to settle in under the watchful eye of her new mahout Aum, while the rest of us went to freshen up after the 18 hour journey. Later we returned with Daa Nook and some offerings for the spirits at her night shelter, so he could bless Fluffy’s new space. He said a chant and made offerings to the spirits to introduce them to Fluffy and ask them to accept her. When he finished he said he had a very good feeling about this place and that he felt she will be very happy with us. Daa Nook returned home the following day.

A special offering to the spirits in Fluffy's enclosure made by Daa Nook to protect her after he had gone.

A special offering to the spirits in Fluffy’s enclosure made by Daa Nook to protect her after he had gone.



The lovely Fluffy smelling around her new night enclosure

We have been watching Fluffy closely and helping her ease into her new home. Fluffy suffers from terrible digestion and her dung quality is poor. Already we are making changes to her diet to help increase absorption and help her digest easier. It appears Fluffy may never have been allowed to roam freely and forage on her own. In the camps Fluffy’s owners were only able to feed her grass and bananas. When she stepped out of her enclosure to explore for the first time she seemed confused. She could smell the grass but hesitated to grab it and break it off to eat. It appeared as though she was expecting to get in trouble for trying it. After sniffing about for a good twenty minutes Fluffy took her first bunch of grass in her trunk and began eating it. She is still very unsure and seems confused when left to forage. On day 2 she took a stroll out in the forest and as she reached a noisy part of the stream she flared her ears and opened her eyes wide. She began to step backwards as it seemed she was afraid. Shortly after this the wind picked up and caused the tree’s to rustle loudly and she had the same response. We speak to Fluffy softly when she appears to be afraid of a noise and she responds very well, immediately calming down and refocusing on what she was doing.  Slowly she is learning that it’s okay to forage, dust & mud bath and just be an elephant. When we first met her she would only drink water from a hose but over the last week she has slowly been stepping out of her comfort zone and has been drinking small amounts of stream water.

Fluffy suffers poor digestion

Fluffy suffers poor digestion

It also seems that by working in the camps Fluffy has been deprived of the opportunity to exfoliate, dust & mud bath and scratch against trees endlessly to satisfy her skins needs. It’s now one of her favorite things to do most of the day! It will be interesting to see if her ‘fluff’ stays as ‘fluffy’ now she has the ability to do all these things.

Taking a stroll down the stream and enjoying making mud

Taking a stroll down the stream and enjoying making mud

Over the last week we have been getting to know the real Fluffy! She still doesn’t know who she is herself, yet!

We are excited to watch how Fluffy progresses and see if she become friends with Mae Kam or Thong Dee. She is very shy at the moment and turns away from both the girls when they approach.

Slow and steady Fluffy! You have all the time you need to find yourself sweet girl!

The ability to bring Fluffy home has given us the strength to keep striving forward, working to make a positive difference and most importantly to give Fluffy a new beginning.

A HUGE THANK YOU to International Wildlife Protection and their supporters for sponsoring Fluffy’s Retirement.

Also a special Thank You to all those who donated towards our fundraising campaign for the transport expenses for Fluffy’s big move.

If you would like to DONATE to bring more elephants to retirement or support the current elephants at BEES, please consider making a donation here.

Together we have changed Fluffy’s Life! Thank You!

Fluffy enjoying having a scratch

Fluffy enjoying having a scratch

Warm Regards,

The BEES Team xx

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 (https://www.facebook.com/WAWIoutreach/) 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: fundus@bafa.org.au or visit www.bafa.org.au 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

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