A note from Emily

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

New Rescues, New staff, Elephant Blessings and a chance to permanently retire one of our very special ele’s at BEES – We need your help…. BEES biggest fundraiser to date! 

Hello BEES Friends,

It has been a massive few months here at BEES, we have been out on research journeys to see other elephants and further educate mahouts and owners, spreading the word of our work and further our knowledge and research. Throughout the last few months we have had a few challenges, have come across some very concerning situations involving both elephants, four and two legged furry/feathery friends, we have seen a lot of abuse and neglect and we are now working to find solutions and ways to improve the living conditions of some of the animals we have seen. Our work here is not easy, we see many disturbing situations and do our best to find solutions to a very complex problem. Their a hundreds of thousands of animals suffering everyday in tourism trade, we MUST do what we can to be their voice!


An update on BEES/BEARS Animal Rescues: April was a big month caring for the new kitten rescues Di-Annie and Steve who were rescued back in March by our mahout who had found in the village and their mother had died, finding an injured young male cat on the start day of the Songkran festival laying helplessly in the middle of the road with weakness in the lower body, naming him Songkran and then a few days later rescuing little Hope a disabled pup from the village who had been hit by a car and had severe fracture of the spine.

In the first week of May two tiny kittens were separated from their mother and dumped in the local fresh vegetable market, P’Gai the owner of the market loves cats, she has several very old cats already. Kittens need a lot of attention and P’Gai knows she can’t give them the care and attention they need as well as care for several very elderly cats. She is one of our most kind and caring rescuers, she does what she can usually capturing the animals, securing them in a cage, gives them food and water and then she calls on us Team BEARS for help, to give the love and care they need and give them a warm home. The most recent rescues from P’Gai are Song See and Sam See.

Songkran rescued on the morning of the start day of the Songkran festival in April from a busy 3 lane road in Chiang Mai, he was very frightened and unable to walk, incontinent and very weak, but after 6 days on anti-inflammatory he began to use the lower part of his body again. Today he still has no use of his tail, but he is able to walk using both hind legs and is building more and more strength everyday. He is still incontinent so he gets sponge baths daily, but we hope given time to heal and lots of tender loving care that he will continue to grown into the beautiful handsome boy we can see he is already becoming.

Little Hope the disabled pup from the village was in a horrible state, she went for an X-ray soon after her rescue which confirmed our thoughts, she has severe deformity of the hind legs, partial rectal prolapse (part of her rectum is on the outside of her anus) and her spine is severely fractured, her spinal cord is severed and darling Hope will never walk again! Her injuries are likely caused by motorbike or car accident. She weighs a tiny 2.6 Kilos and is only about 3 months old. Hope’s quality of life would have been very grim before BEARS had found her, now she spends her days being pampered like a princess, we clean and dress her wounds putting bandages all the way up both legs, keeping her from infection. Just this week her wheels were hand delivered by a volunteer that had collected them from BEES Animal Foundation Australia – BAFA the Australian Team for BEES. She has been getting used to her wheels, but gets tired very easily. She is so little that when she sits to take a break often she doesn’t have the energy to get up again. It’s a whole new world for little Hope. She is such an amazing dog, with such a big heart. She has learned to trust in humans again and is trying to live her life to the fullest.
BEARS barks and meows a HUGE welcome to kittens Di-Annie and Steve, Songkran, Song See and Sam See and Darling Little disABLED pup Hope. All are settling in well to their new home and we are here committed to giving them love and care they deserve.


Hope testing out her new wheels

Darling Hope testing her new wheels

And just now as I am writing this blog a small wild bird fledgling has just arrived, he is not yet able to fly, I believe they are called Plovers? When I get a chance I will research more. He is now safe in a cage with a soft grass floor bed, some water and with the rains brought loads of flying termites which we sprinkled into the cage and he enjoyed munching them all up! Welcome little fella!

Lenovo Australia’s kind donation:
Recently we received an amazing gift from Lenovo Australia. A brand new Yoga 3 Pro Notebook. We have been having a lot of trouble with our technology and this amazing gift will make life so much easier for the daily communications and running of BEES. In fact, I am using this wonderful gift right now to write this and already life is so much easier.
Thank You Lenovo Australia!!!!

Two New Mahouts join BEES:
In April we welcomed two new mahouts to our Elephant Care Team Eemi and Toohey. Eemi and Toohey both are very excited to be a part of the Team and have been working really well with the other mahouts. They have both previously cared for elephants in camps in the north and are adapting well to the positive care techniques we use at BEES. They are now caring for Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee. Welcome to the Team Eemi and Toohey, thank you for joining us on our journey to improving the future for the elephants!

Elephant Blessings: In the last blog we wrote about the elephants being returned home for elephant blessings during April and we said we would provide an update after we had been, as we had never been or seen an elephant blessing before.
Mae Jumpee the oldest elephant under retirement program at BEES returned to her birth place for 8 days in April for the Elephant Blessings. As previously explained the Blessings ceremony is a way for the families to give thanks to the elephants for their service to the families. At BEES elephants that owners do not wish to sell but want to join the program are under contract, owners usually sign on for one year to begin with and BEES hopes to be able to continue to secure long term contracts as we build friendships. It is the owners right to take the elephants home for these ceremonies, they are not breaking any laws. At BEES we work very hard to improve the situations for the elephants and feel it is important to work together with the owners in order to make a positive difference. We may not personally agree with some cases, but sometimes we have to make compromises in order to do what we can for the individual animals we are trying to help. We feel it’s important to respect the local culture and that if we didn’t agree to this that we would not be able to improve the elephants lives the way we already have been able to achieve.

Mae Jumpee at the home of her owners for the blessing ceremony.

Mae Jumpee at the home of her owners, receiving treats prior to the blessing ceremony.

On the 1st day of the ceremony she was collected in an elephant transfer truck that was also carrying her daughter and two young grandsons aged 5 and 10 years old that are still owned within the family. Their interaction was very touching, she knew exactly who they were and her daughter tried to turn to touch her mother, the whole journey Mae Jumpee touched the genitalia of the other elephants, who knows what they where saying???!!!! We accompanied Mae Jumpee to the village making sure she was okay. When we arrived in the village they offloaded the elephants and gave them some time to find their feet. They where greeted by many village people, Mae Jumpee is the oldest elephant within the villages elephants. The elephants spent a few moments sniffing each other and the area and then they were walked down into the village down to the owners home. When we reached the home the family members welcomed the elephants, standing on the balcony of the home and held out treats of banana, sugarcane, corn and tamarinds for the wondering trunks. Once the elephants had their welcome home treats they had a bath, a drink of water and then they were taken to be secured in the forest. The elephants spent 7 days in the forest on long chains nearby the village being cared for by their owners during this time. During the 7 day period the families brewed their very own Moon shine- Thai whiskey in preparation for the Elephant blessings. There were approx around 15 elephants returned home to the village around this time. We met with some of the owners that day, talked with a number of mahouts and then we returned home. Ringing to check in daily, a friend was staying in the village and was able to check in on Mae Jumpee for us.

The elephants of The Kratuu family all lined up to receive treats and blessings from the family, at the families home.

The elephants of The Kratuu family all lined up to receive treats and blessings from the family, at the families home. The long trunk in the foreground is Mae Jumpee’s

On the 7th Day we returned back to Mae Jumpees village early morning, already the human celebrations had begun, whiskey was ready, beer and soft drinks had been served, food was cooking and by 9 am it was time for the elephants to be brought back into the village from the nearby forest and for the families to give thanks to the elephants for their service for the families and pay respects and apologize for any discomfort they have caused the elephants in order to make an income to feed their families. The ceremony took about an hour, all four of the families elephants including Mae Jumpee stood in the same place that they had 7 days prior and where fed a few treats to start the ceremony, the second eldest son who is a joint owner of the elephants began the blessings by taking a bowl of offerings and bowing his head and lightly placing it on top of each elephants head. Then he took a bowl of sacred tamarind water and sprinkled a small amount on each elephants head. After this a beautiful hand-made banana leaf offering with scented flowers wrapped in it was placed on each of the elephants heads with a single tamarind from the scented water offering. (Mae Jumpee spent most of the time trying to eat the blessings). After the tamarind and banana leaf offering was placed on the top of their heads a white confetti was sprinkled on the tops of their heads also – it looked a lot like popcorn pieces – popcorn is used widely in the local area for traditional blessings even for non-animal related ceremonies. All the time chanting and prayer were taking place. Once each elephant had been showered in scented tamarind water, blessed with the banana leaf offerings and sprinkled with the white confetti on the tops of their heads the chanting got quieter but was still heard at a whisper, the man doing the blessings (the second eldest son) placed a line of white cotton down both ears of the elephants. He took another bowl full of offerings and lightly held it up above the elephants heads, bowed his head and did this for each elephant. He chanted more and picked up a fresh green elephant grass stem and began to lightly run the grass over each elephants body. He then returned to the top of the house to pick up a third bowl full of offerings and held it above each elephants heads, lightly resting it against their heads for a moment until all elephants had the offering placed on their heads for the third and final time. Then it was time for the elephants to enjoy a feast of banana, tamarinds, banana tree, fruits and vegetables available in the village and fresh juicy grasses. After this the elephants returned to the forest again for their last evening in the village. The following day we drove out to the village again to meet the transfer truck and bring darling old Mae Jumpee home. She was tired, but after 48 hours rest at BEES, she was back to her normal active self.

Help us SAVE Mae Kam:  
We have some really alarming news. Our first elephant to join us at BEES – Mae Kam who has been under retirement contract at BEES is at risk of being returned to a life of slavery, we need your help to stop this from happening and secure her permanent freedom. When elephants joined the retirement program back in the beginning when BEES first started it was for contracts of 1 year in the hopes the owners would continue to extend or eventually would sell us their elephants and retire themselves. The reason we started this way under contractual agreements for long and short term is because 1, we didn’t have the funds or support to buy elephants as they cost the same amount as a very nice vehicle and 2, because owners did not want to sell their elephants.


In Mae Kams 2nd year with us the owner extended her contract with BEES for 2 years. Now, the contract has expired already this year and the owner has decided he does not want to resign the contract. The reason is because he is not happy with Mae Kam. On the 31st of May it will be 3 years since we started walking Mae Kam to BEES. Arriving at BEES on the 1st of June 2012. Mae Kams 3 year ‘retirement day’ is suppose to be the 1st June, but instead we fear we will be grieving because we will have lost the battle to keep her in her sanctuary, instead of celebrating a special time. A few weeks ago the owner came to take Mae Kam back to his village, but clearly she didn’t want to go. In order to get there she had to walk, the owner also decided to harness her up with the trekking basket in order to get her home. Mae Kam was not impressed, she clearly loves sanctuary life and was not happy to be back on the road, walking with the horrible, heavy and very uncomfortable trekking basket.

- Mae Kam is known throughout the region as a ‘dangerous’ elephant because she shakes people off her back, it’s one of the reason’s Mae Kam was retired to BEES, because many years ago her owner had leased her out to the trekking camps where she was being beaten terribly for not doing her job. The owner decided to take her home back in that time as no one wanted to work with her, she was kept on a chain in the forest for nearly 2 years before she was given a chance to walk freely and socialize in a natural environment, a place she now calls home at BEES and has done for the past 3 years.She is not dangerous she needs to be respected and understood, she has her own individual needs and we need to give her love, respect and understanding. –

When the owner decided to take her home for the ceremony a couple of week ago, he harnessed her up with the trekking basket, she immediately changed, she has been in the forest for 3 years and was not used to carrying the basket, she shook violently and her owner fell off from her back. He was sitting on her neck, not in the basket and he first fell backwards and hit his back on the trekking basket and then ended up face first straight onto the ground, his son came back to our house asking us to come quick and Burm drove the owner into the emergency room at the hospital in Maechaem. Our staff immediately removed the basket and checked her over. Thankfully, Mae Kam was fine, she was walked back to her home at BEES, she calmed down immediately, has been here every day since, walking alongside her best friend Mae Jumpee, who she missed dearly when they were separated for 8 days for Mae Jumpee to return home for her ceremony. The owner sustained serious injury to his head and broke a vertebrae, he was moved to 3 different hospital for treatments and further care. He spent a week in hospital, BEES as a kind gesture helped with the hospital bills. Even today, 3 weeks later he is still not well, he has blurred vision, headaches and a sore spine. He has decided he no longer wants Mae Kam because this is a very bad omen for him and his family, he believes it’s a sign that he should no longer keep elephants and the family all agree that they no longer want her. He wants to sell her and he is thinking of selling her to a trekking camp owner to go back to work in the trekking camps. She CAN’T work and DOESN’T WANT to work. We CAN’T let that happen, she is a retired elephant and loves her life at BEES. We have to find a way to secure Mae Kam’s freedom,we can’t let her go without a fight. We will need to find the funds to save her.


What life would you want? Mae Kam doesn't have a voice, but her actions speak louder than words. She chose sanctuary life the moment she used her voice and stopped the walk home to her ceremony.

What life would you want? Mae Kam doesn’t have a voice, but her actions speak louder than words. She chose sanctuary life the moment she used her voice and stopped the walk home to her ceremony.



On the 19th May, after a few days of negotiating, Mae Kam’s owner agreed to giving us a month to gather the funds, we have been madly setting up a campaign in order to make an easier way for our wonderful supporters to donate towards securing Mae Kam’s freedom. The price is high, after a lot of research and discussion with experienced buyers this is standard price for a trekking elephant with Mae Kam’s visual body condition, she may not be classified as young, but she is strong – because she has had a lot of love and care at BEES- the camps don’t care about age, they don’t consider individual personalities or understand their psychological needs, she is there to do a job and if she doesn’t she will be beaten. We fear for her life and her safety. We MUST save her! Please help us save our beautiful girl, Mae Kam was the start of BEES, she means the world to us! The clock is ticking and we are running out of time, we ideally need to raise the funds in the next 2 weeks as it can take a while for the funds to be released and moved over to Thailand and we need to give the funds to the owner in less than a month!!!. Please spread the word, donate and help us save our beautiful girl! Thank you!

Please help us save Mae Kam and donate today via Just Giving:

Or if you wish to do direct bank transfer: (Please make sure you write what it’s for and send us a PM on facebook to let us know so we can be sure it arrives and send you a thank you)

ACCT #: 419 2 35661 5
LOCATION: 45 Moo 4 Charoenniran , Amphur Maechaem, Tambon Chang Keung, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50270


BSB: 082-146
ACCT#: 848647725.
SWIFT code: AAU3303M
LOCATION: 690 Pittwater Rd, Brookvale 2100 NSW Australia.

Trumpets, Rumbles, Grumbles, Barks, Meows, cheeps and squeaks of Thanks for your kindness and support! Together we can achieve amazing things, let’s make sure Mae Kam continues to have the freedom she deserves!!!!

Warm Regards,

Emily, Burm and all the Team at BEES Human, Elephant and 2 and four legged friends :)

All photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary 





A Note From Emily

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

 Hello BEES Friends,

As always we have been keeping busy and A LOT has happened since our last blog back in October 2014. Wow, we have had a whirl wind of a start to our New Year! We have been working away further building the elephant medical shelter, in November we were left shaken after the sudden passing of our dear Uncle Thong Inn a very important member of our family, the arrival of The Golden Girls from Mae Hong Son, more animal rescues, Christmas with our villagers and poorly elephants in the New Year with intestinal impactions and the Mother elephant Kham Mee and her Calf Boon on the rest and care program having to be rushed to the elephant hospital after Boon had a severe allergic reaction to what was believed to be caused by ingesting a toxic plant or animal/insect.

We have definitely been kept on our toes and have lots of updates! So Grab a cup of Tea and a biscuit! Enjoy!

 Firstly, apologies for not blogging for some time now, we have been changing over our website host and had difficulties gaining access during the transfer, we then had technical difficulties with receiving emails as so many wonderful new people flooded our email server with enquiries and message of support and it crashed and then finally we got it fixed , then we got caught up in the normal busy BEES work and on top as your all aware have very poor internet connectivity.

Mae Kam grazing at the edge of the forest

Mae Kam grazing at the edge of the forest

Rescued Animals at BEES/ BEARS update:

Sadly, over the last few months we have lost many cats to road accidents. It is so heart breaking and even though many people are saying we give them the best life, it’s still so hard to have to bury our fury babies because we love each and everyone of them like our family, we can’t understand why they want to play on the road!

At Burm and Emily’s Animal Rescue and Shelter – BEARS – we provide a home to all animals in need. We provide sterilizations, vaccinations, a good diet, medicine, trips to the vet if needed when ill and a warm loving home and shelter to cats and dogs. We don’t just limit our program to cats and dogs, if we find any wildlife we  run a rehabilitation and release program and release them wherever possible. We have successfully released numerous species of birds, to name a few 2 species of Owl – Asian Barred Owl, Oriental Bay Owl, A Female Blackheaded wood pecker, A White Throated KingFisher, many garden lizards and lots of bush rats.

Currently, We have a Brown Wood Owl Fledgling that we are rehabilitating for release. He has grown so much in the last 3.5 weeks since his rescue. The Owl has many names – Baby, Kitty, Natashaaaa and Owly! He is eating raw chicken and lots of blood and guts that is good to keep him growing strong, he has also been eating up little shrews the naughty cats have been hunting and has been eating cicadas and crickets. He still isn’t using his feet to clean his mouth so we have been removing anything that may scratch his throat or cause his to choke. He also does not appreciate anything moving around in his enclosure lizards, beetle or otherwise. We hope he is just young and his instincts are yet to kick in. We want him to go back to the wild where he belongs flying free!

In December we rescued a white pup, who we named Snow, he was in the temple and dragging his hind right leg behind him. We took him for x-rays and the vets continued to tell us that he had nerve damage and with massage and time he would heal. After 2.5 months of watching this poor dog struggle and his leg becoming severely infected down to the bone we finally found a vet that would remove the leg and could see that it needed to come off. Our Beautiful Boy Snow is doing very well, running around on 3 legs and so much happier!

Since the New Year we rescued another dog named Whan Whan and run another sterilization day for BEES cats, sterilizing 7 cats and have been back at the temple cats project in Chiang Mai and are preparing for another sterilization day.

Our next fundraising goals for BEARS are more land for cats and dogs, building a cat house to bring the cats home at night and lock them in and near future raise funds for further sterilization programs. It is also a big dream to have the funds needed in order to build a fully equipped animal hospital in Maechaem and hire veterinary staff from abroad and locally to provide assistance on a bigger scale to the animals in our area!

If you would like to support the efforts of BEARS, please make a donation via PayPal by entering Beesfundraiser@hotmail.com into PayPal – enetering in the subject line what its for e.g. Donation: BEARS Cat House, Donation: BEARS Projects etc The word Donation or Donation for MUST be in the subject line. Thank you! :)

Elephant Medical Shelter building progress:

Since October we have been chugging along building the Elephant Medical Shelter at BEES. If you have been following Facebook you will see how far it has come along. ;) We have had a few delays, including not being able to purchase building supplies as the warehouse has been out of stock and then this caused set backs with transport vehicles and our workers have not been available when resources arrive.

Fortunately, we are back on track as the workers have been free and we have been firing ahead. The main roof is complete, the roof for the behind medical storage room will be commencing in the next week and the cement floor is almost down. Some of you may wonder why it is taking so long?! Here in rural Thailand we are located nearly 3 hours drive from the supplies needed to build and we also do mostly everything by hand, so our staff and workers have been laboring away collecting bucket loads of sand, carrying big bags of cement back and forth and mixing the cement in large buckets by hand. It’s a slow, hot, sweaty and exhausting process, but we are so pleased with all the Team effort going into the building, some of our volunteers have even been getting in and lending a helping hand carrying heavy buckets, lifting cement bags and helping mix and lay cement…. Thank you to all our volunteers who have been helping with the shelter! Although, it is a hot and hard job it is totally worth it, as the finished Medical Shelter will bring safety to the elephants, vets and staff when examining and providing treatments for the elephants, it will provide a nice cool, quiet place when elephants are unwell, it will be clean, hygienic and store all the important medicines and food treats for the elephants.

 Thank you to each and every one of you, who donated towards the building of the Medical Shelter, for sharing our campaign and supporting our important work here in Thailand. We are excited for the completion of the shelter and will definitely post pictures on Facebook to keep you updated.

Elephant Medical Shelter building progres: Volunteers and staff at BEES working hard to get the job done!

Elephant Medical Shelter building progress: Volunteers and staff at BEES working hard to get the job done!

 The Golden Girls Thong Dee and Boon Yuen, Poor digestion in older elephants and settling in:

Thong Dee and Boon Yuen, The Golden Girls from Mae Hong Son needed a place to retire too. Their owner Poor Tawee felt he had nowhere else for them to go, he had heard great things about BEES and the work we do with elephants, mahouts and owners of elephants in our region. Poor Tawee’s Father passed away in October leaving his family very shocked and his Mother with no one to care for her. Poor Tawee had been with his Golden Girls for near 30 years, it wasn’t an easy decision to leave them but he felt he had a responsibility to be by his Mother’s side. He thought his girls had worked long enough and he wanted them to have a safe place and be well looked after.

When an owner retires their elephants it can take them a while to find their feet and they lose a huge source of income, this is one reason why many elephant owners work the elephants to death as they see no other alternative.

Poor Tawee told us of his dreams to move his small organic Lemon/Lime tree orchard to his new home and build a new life with his wife and to be able to care for his mother. Of course, we thought it was a brilliant idea to set up an organic lemon/lime tree orchard, How cool is that?!! and reassured him that every elephant that comes to BEES under contract we provide owners with an alternative income, an income in which they would have earned if they continued to work their elephants in the camps, sometimes more then what they would have earned. This gave him the confidence and the push he needed to start his new business, turning it to be a source of income and no longer just a hobby!

We only had a few short weeks before he had prepared everything and was ready to set off on his new journey creating a new life in his Mothers village, his original home town – leaving his Golden Girls behind. He needed funds straight away to assist with transport of his seedlings and all of his belongings, so we had to act fast.


Poor Tawee watches over his girls, while he talks with our assistant Shin

Poor Tawee watches over his girls, while he talks with our assistant Shin

Well, we reached our fundraising goals in record timing!

Thank you to each and every person who donated to retire the Golden Girls to BEES in such a short amount of time, an incredible 4,200AUD was raised, which meant that we had the funds needed to transfer the Golden Girls, provide their owner with 6 months wage so we he could transfer his belongings to his new home and he could start up his organic Lemon/Lime Orchard, provide the first few months wage to their new carers and general elephant medical/ daily care expenses here at BEES.

 During the time the Golden Girls were due to be moved we faced a few challenges, our head elephant carer – mahouts child Glaycee fell very ill and on the same day Glaycee was admitted into hospital with Typhoid our dear Uncle Thong Inn was brought into the emergency, he had collapsed and was not breathing, the doctors tried everything they could to revive him but it was too late. His passing happened so very suddenly, we were all in shock and absolute devastation. That day we lost our friend and a key member of our family and our community. The thought of not seeing Uncle Thong Inn’s smiley face every day brings tears to our eyes, we will always hold him close in our hearts, he was a big part of Mollie our disabled dogs rescue, alerting us to her situation and loved to check in on her at least 3 times a week after she was settled. Every time I look at Mollie I will think of him.

R.I.P Uncle Thong Inn we miss you everyday and we hope your enjoying paradise!

R.I.P Uncle Thong Inn we miss you everyday and we hope your enjoying paradise!

The Golden Girls owner decided he wanted to spend a little bit more time with his girls and sent his wife and their dog to stay with his Mother while he spent his a few days prior to their move with them, the day of their move we heard him singing to them and telling them he loved them and he was sorry to have to say good bye. We have never met an owner quiet like Poor Tawee, he is a kind and gentle man and has a remarkable relationship with his elephants, he can call from over 50 meters away and they will come, follow and always recognize him. They come straight to see him when he visits and when both girls have had intestinal impactions he has either been out to check or providing guidance over the phone.

The  Golden Girls grazing in the grassfields at BEES

The Golden Girls grazing in the grassfields at BEES

Thong Dee and Boon Yuen – The Golden Girls arrived at BEES on the 22nd November 2014. They were able to stretch their legs on BEES soil, soak their feet in the refreshing stream, spray mud and dust, eat fresh green grasses and natural fodder to their hearts desire and be able to interact freely without hindrance of chains during the day.

Since January our 3 oldest girls, The Golden Girls and Mae Jumpee a 70 year old elephant in the Retirment program have all had blockages and poor movement through the digestive tract. Both Golden Girls have very abnormal dung which indicates very poor digestive systems and worn/no teeth, the dung is compact, very long and not very well broken down. We are slowly changing their diets which we hope will improve their digestive systems and make it easier to pass their dung, we have never seen dung so abnormal, an elephants dung is a very important indicator of an elephants overall health, usually passing several round solid stools at a time, it is clear that Thong Dee and Boon Yuen are suffering from very damaged digestive tracts and we are working to improve this to make them as comfortable as possible. The vets came to check the Golden Girls and have agreed that the older elephants in our care are aged and have worn teeth and systems, needing dietary changes/adjustments to a higher amount of finer chopped easily digestible food sources and less large solid foods, so we have been taking extra measures to ensure they get a good balanced diet, well chopped banana trees, grass and corn, chopped soft fruits and lots of peeled tamarinds. We have also sourced a food shredder which we hope to be picking up later this week, which should lighten the load for the Mahouts and also shred the food better then chopping.

The Golden Girls have both settled into their new home very well. They have had a few tiffs with Mae Kam who is a very cheeky elephant also retired at BEES. Mae Kam is in charge and her best friend Mae Jumpee is her friend and she doesn’t want to share.

In the months to follow after the Golden Girls arrived time has flown by very quickly we can hardly keep up! We have had serious winter chills and a dramatic change in season over the last 3 months, with temperatures ranging from 22-25’C in the day time and evenings dropping as low as 6’C throughout December, January and then towards the end of February the temperatures began to soar reaching 35’C or more and staying at 25-30’C in the evenings. The cool weather and dramatic changes in temperature can make the elephants feel unwell. This year our dear friend and supporter Karyn Steele made homemade blankets to keep the eles warm which has sparked an international interest in getting all the old elephants at BEES custom made coat Jackets that are being made by the Goat Coat Shop in the US and the wonderful Friends of Lucy Team are running a fundraiser to raise the amount needed to order and ship the coats. Thank you Friends of Lucy!

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, but in March her friend Thong Dee passed an even bigger blockage of 11kg! This is not good, we have ordered inr 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.

Elephant Blessings:

A few times now we have mentioned about the elephants from Karen Hill tribe under retirement contracts at BEES being returned home for a short period of time every few years so they can be blessed and the families can pay respects and give thanks for their service and the income the elephants have earned to feed their families. In May it will be 3 years since retiring Mae Kam and in August it will be 3 years since retiring Mae Jumpee and during April the families of both elephants believe it is a good time to return them to their villages for the tradition Karen Hill tribe ceremony. Gee Ju – Karen translation or Chang Mut Muu Suu Kwam – Thai Translations . We believe they will be home for the first part of April and then will return to the retirement program at BEES! We a have never been apart of these ceremonies and the families have invited us to be a part of their blessings, we hope we will be able to shed some light on the tradition after going.

On March 3rd 2014 Mae Jumpees owner Poor Kratuu passed away after a long time battling with health problems and an unhealthy Kidney, he was her owner for her whole life, Poor Kratuu was nearly 5 years old when she was born and he loved her. Mae Jumpee now 70 years old is very much loved by her whole family who are from the Karen Hilltribe, they have had elephants in their family and home village for generations and every few years an incredible event takes place, all the elephants from the family are returned home to the village for a blessing ceremony to thank the elephants for the work and service they provide for the families. Poor Kratuu expressed the importance of the ceremony for the family to give thanks, blessing the spirit of the elephants and that it brings good health and good luck to the villagers and wards off bad spirits. It was his dying wish that his beautiful old girl Mae Jumpee’s owners return to her village of birth one more time to be reunited with her family for the ceremony and for her human family to be able to bless her and give thanks to her for providing their family with an income to survive.

At BEES we work with elephant owners to provide an alternative income for them to feed their families in return for their elephants to stop work and join us at BEES having the ability to be elephants, rest, receive treatment and care. We have long-term contracts for older elephants and short-term contracts for younger elephants and elephants requiring treatment that are not so severe cases and don’t need to stay in the elephant hospital, but need a place to rest and receive medical care. Of course, we hope the elephants under the short term contracts on rest and care will be allowed to stay with us and that the owners will eventually no longer feel the need to take the elephants home for the ceremonies, but that is for the owner to decide and by law it is their right!

We MUST respect their ways and work in harmony with the people, building friendships made with respect and understanding.

The only way forward is to work together with owners of elephants and mahouts, to provide alternatives where the owners needs are met and the elephants are removed from work, have the ability to roam and socialize, be free from abuse and exploitation and receive the love and care they need and deserve.

Darling 70 year olde Jumpee peeping through the shrubs on a forest walk!

Darling 70 year old Jumpee peeping through the shrubs on a forest walk!

Kham Mee and Boon the Mother and Calf on the Rest and Care Program:

Back in June last year we all opened up our hearts and our arms to a beautiful Mother and her Calf, Kham Mee and Boon: Please refer to the blogs from the 6th July 2014 and 21st August 2014. http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org/?p=1103  http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org/?p=1128

Kham  Mee and Boon’s owner contacted us to ask for help to treat his calves eye which was very sore and infected after he had spiked his eye running about in the forest. We called the Veterinarians from the Thai Elephant Conservation Center out to the owner’s village to assess the situation and after a lot of discussion the decision was made it would be best to move Kham Mee and Boon to BEES in a stress free environment so that Boon could undergo a treatment program and receive care at BEES and his mum Kham Mee could have a good rest.

It is now over 8 months since they joined the Rest and Care Program they are a both healthy and strong. Boon’s eye sight in the damaged eye couldn’t be saved due to the severity and impact of the bamboo penetrating the eye, but we have cleared infection and his eye is no longer causing him pain.

Back in early February Boon gave us quiet the scare, he had a severe decline in health during the day. Angae the carer said around lunch time Boon was grazing by his Mother’s side (at this young age he is only starting to learn how to eat real foods and starting to move away from fulltime suckling) when he let out an unbelievably loud roar. Boon has also been developing his vocalization skills, so Angae initially thought nothing of it, but then Boon continued getting louder and more frequent, Angae was very worried and brought them home from the forest. By the time they reached home Boon’s tongue was swelling, he was unable to eat or drink and Kham Mee was becoming very aggressive. We called out the vets from the Thai Elephant Conservation Center Hospital, assessing Boon it was believed he ingested a toxic plant/animal whilst foraging with his mother that caused a severe allergic reaction. The vets administered antihistamine and said we need to monitor him over night. When morning came Boon had not responded to medication, he was growing weak, he had not been able to eat anything for over 12 hours and the vets feared it may have been the deadly virus EEHV –Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus. The owner of Kham Mee and Boon arrived and the decision was made to call the emergency transport to move them to the TECC hospital to receive support there. When loading them onto the truck Kham Mee become very protective of Boon and destroyed the back gate of the truck tearing her mouth and damaging her head. When they reached the hospital after the long journey the vet team assessed Kham Mees wounds and put her on a course of antibiotics and administered Boon with more medications both anti-viral and antihistamine. Within a few hour they had both calmed and Boon’s tongue swelling decreased greatly, it was such a relief to see him eating and growing stronger again. We stayed one night at the hospital with the owner and then left him and our mahout – Elephant carer Angae at the hospital. Angae stayed by their side the whole time they were at the hospital, helping with treatments, keeping their treatment area clean and updated us morning and night. Boon was kept under observation and treated for both EEHV and severe allergic reaction and within a few days he was back to his normal self and his Mother Kham Mee was being very difficult and was not tolerating her treatments very well. What a relief, this strong beautiful boy is healthy again!

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

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

It was decided it would better to return Kham Mee and Boon to continue out the remainder of the Rest and Care program at BEES and that their carer Angae (employed by BEES and a big part of our Team) would be able to treat her better in a more comfortable environment where she would be calmer and in a place that she was used too. Since they returned Boon has been very strong, he is growing into a handsome young Bull elephant.

As previously explained, Kham Mee and Boon are privately owned and we always knew their stay at BEES was Temporary, even though we wish they could stay with us, the owner would like to move them back home. After new discussions with the owner he plans on moving them back to his home town in about 3.5 months. We love Kham Mee and Boon very much and we will always do everything we can to help them. We will never stop the fight to bring an end to the cruelty and trade and we hope that in the future when BEES is bigger  and has a good, strong funding we will be able to do a lot more for these elephants. When the day comes that we have to let them go it will hurt our hearts, because we have really grown to them and understand their behaviors, but what we know and I will tell you this, it will not be goodbye and we will follow up with the owner often.

Kham Mee and Boon walking away from Boon Yuen after a very special few moments! Kham Mee is a very protective mum and keeps her baby close, she doesn't like to allow other elephants in and usually only stay around for 5 minutes or so and then moves away.

Kham Mee and Boon walking away from Boon Yuen after a very special few moments! Kham Mee is a very protective mum and keeps her baby close, she doesn’t like to allow other elephants in and usually only stas around for 5 minutes or so and then moves away.

We will always hold every elephant we meet close to our hearts and will strive to create a postive future for all the elephants.  Although, the elephant situation here in Thailand is very complex and the traditions are challenging, the tides are changing for elephant welfare. Our work here will never be finished, not until the last captive elephant is  free of abuse and  provided with the ability to roam freely and feel grass between their toes, socialize with their own kind and has a life as natural as possible receiving love, respect, and protection.

Education is the key!

Please continue to spread the word about the plight of Asian Elephants, tell people to be in the know before they go to Asian countries.

Together we CAN and WILL make a difference!

With big Trumpets and rumbles of gratitude,

Emily and All The BEES Team xx


A note from Emily

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog, Uncategorized

Hello BEES Friends,

We have been promising a blog update for a while now and apologize for the delay and lack of updates. Most of you would be aware that I (Emily) fell ill last month and I am still in recovery. It really knocked me about, as well as throwing the project, the staff and of course our incredible multitasking Burm out of normal routine.

Burm has been completely amazing and organized a huge sterilization day for the rescued cats at BEES while I was sick, transporting a truck load of cats to be sterilized and he even followed up with their medicine and monitoring them after to ensure they didn’t get infections or tear their stitches in the days to follow. He also did an amazing job keeping the project running smoothly and managing guests all at the same time, he never stops trying and works so incredibly hard to make sure all the animals and the humans are okay as well as always being a huge support to me. He is our rock and we all love him!

Burm and Boon share a moment

Burm and Boon share a moment

I spent over a week away from the sanctuary when I was ill. I tried hard to keep in contact and answer emails but the virus overtook me and I just didn’t have the energy. I’m still in the recovery process over a month later and apologize for the delay if you have been waiting to hear from us and if we haven’t been responding as quickly as normal. Please don’t hesitate to send reminders; we will catch up as soon as we can.

So much has been happening on the Sanctuary and we have so much we wish to share with you and update you all on.

September was a busy time with the cat sterilization day, pulling down the old hut to rebuild the new mahout house and travels to find new mahouts to join our team.

Cat sterilization day at BEES September 1st

‘Cat sterilization day’ a truck load of BEES recent rescues Sept 1st

The cat sterilization day for BEES rescued cats on the 1st September was a great success. Big Thanks to Pam Bayer the medical Coordinator at Care for Dogs and Dr. New, for always being so supportive and doing such amazing work. The cats have all fully recovered and are all doing very well after they finished their medicine and recovery period, back to their normal cheeky selves playing around the gardens at BEES.

Building a new hut and new members to the BEES Team:
During September we knocked down the old hut that was outside the kitchen and rebuilt it down by Aner’s (Head Elephant Caretaker at BEES) family house so we could provide a home for a new mahout.

The new mahout house already decorated by the new mahout and his friend Retutu.

The new mahout house already decorated by the new mahout and his friend Retutu.

The mahouts that had been looking after Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee while Aner took care of Kham Mee and Boon both decided at the beginning of September that they wanted to return home as harvest season starts in a few weeks’ time. We didn’t have much time to act as one left mid-September after a family member had passed and the other said he would stay to the end of the month and care for Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee together until we could find new mahouts. The mahout stayed and watched Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee every day, taking them out on their normal forest routine of just grazing away, soaking up the sun and just doing what elephants do best, Both mahouts said they were sad to be leaving but their family’s needed them. We wish both Pong and Sornchai all the best and hope that they have a successful harvest this year and we thank them for their work and support for our ele girls.

Aner back walking with his ladies

Aner back walking with his ladies

It is important to understand that the whole situation regarding mahouts and elephants in Thailand is very complex.

Mahouts aren’t exactly in abundance, often it’s difficult to find an experienced care taker that is trained in caring for elephants without using abusive methods, so we need to take time to teach them and learn from them and build strong relationships with these people to show them love, care and respect in order to get that in return for the elephants. Often mahouts will have families, we offer for these families to come and stay with us, but sometimes they don’t wish to move, it can be difficult for mahouts to leave families behind and often return to their families.

Often mahouts are not well taken care of themselves and don’t have an education and don’t have many options for work. It’s important to understand that there are many mahouts found in Thailand that are of the Karen hill tribe or are Karen-Burmese that come from very poor and broken backgrounds. In a lot of places they get paid next to nothing and treated so badly working in the camps that often they take their frustrations out on the elephants, because if the elephant isn’t behaving and are losing the business money the mahouts themselves lose an income. Without an income they can’t survive and if they have families to feed it can be a very tough situation.

A mahout is a human being with a story, a story that has shaped the person that they are today. It is our job to listen, observe, understand and care about the mahouts in order to work with them to educate, inform and guide them to take on positive methods to work together to improve the welfare of the elephants and animals. We get nowhere by screaming abuse, it is only though working together and taking positive actions that we can take positive steps.

On the 25th September we drove the long journey to Khun Yuam district were Mae Kam’s owner lives after receiving a call from him that two people a man and a teenage boy were looking for a job. After weeks searching finally we had some good news. Arriving in Khun Yuam we were greeted by Mae Kam’s owner with a smile and his family all came to greet us and ask how Mae Kam was going. It’s always so lovely when we visit the owners of the elephants and their families to be greeted so warmly and it is such a privilege to be invited into their homes. The family of Mae Kam was so pleased we made the journey to see them and show them pictures of their beautiful cheeky girl Mae Kam that they took us to their farm were they plant sugarcane and cut a whole truck load of sugarcane to send home for the elephants.

Truck load of sugar cane from Mae Kam's family

Truck load of sugar cane from Mae Kam’s family

Shortly after arriving at the family’s home arrived the boys who were looking for work. They both stood very shyly, seemingly nervous but also letting of a vibe of excitement for what their new adventure would bring.

Angae 26 years old and Retutu 16 are both Karen, they have come from very poor family backgrounds. Retutu’s family couldn’t support him to go to school and so he decided to go out and look for work. For the last 8 months he has worked helping people plant and harvest corn and rice in the area. Many promised a wage but only gave him a bed to sleep in and food and never paid him a wage. Angae also had trouble finding work, he was working for many years in trekking camps and even spent time working in an elephant refuge that didn’t use hooks, but even he faced the same situations many times where people had said they would pay him and then they didn’t. Earlier this year Poor Luang Panuu (Mae Kam’s Owner) asked around the village if anyone knew of some people to help him harvest his crops Angae and Retutu came to help him, Poor Luang Panuu paid them a small wage and Angae and Retutu became good friends. After they helped harvest the crops the two boys returned to Anages Village and stayed together. When we told Poor Luang Panuu that we needed help finding mahouts he happily asked around and found that Angae was an experienced mahout and was still looking for work, Angae said he would only take the position if his friend Retutu could come with him as Retutu didn’t want to return to his family, he wanted a job and to make a life for himself. Poor Luang Panuu has always seemed to only ever want good things for Mae Kam, he helped us find Aner and has has been of great help and support. He would never recommend someone if he didn’t think they would be alright and up for the job.


Retutu returning from a forest walk followed by his new friend Mae Jumpee

Retutu returning from a forest walk followed by his new friend Mae Jumpee

Angae and Retutu have both become very comfortable in the last few weeks here. They both went from very shy boys, to very excitable and friendly almost overnight. They both helped finish building the new mahout house and have since moved into their new home, we have also set up a second hand t.v and satellite in their so they can watch T.V of an evening. Angae is now caring for Kham Mee and Boon and Aner has returned to his girls Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee. Retutu is spending time learning along side Aner so that one day he may become a mahout. We hope that they will stay and join our team to continue to work towards improving elephant welfare in Thailand with us. At BEES we do not ride the elephants, we do not use hooks and we do everything we can to steer owners and mahouts away from negative methods. We work tirelessly to give the elephants the freedom, to just be elephants.

Angae is very kind and gentle towards the elephants and has already become a very good friend to Boon, playing with him and feeding both Boon and his mumma Kham Mee treats everyday and giving them lots of love and attention. Retutu is learning from Aner and seems to enjoy the walks out in the forest observing the elephants and seeing what elephants are really suppose to do, to just be elephants.

Angae treating Kham Mee to some yummy freshly cut corn stems

Angae treating Kham Mee to some yummy freshly cut corn stems before giving some treats to little man Boon 

It’s important for everyone working towards creating a better future for the elephants to understand the realities and the complex issues that revolve around Elephant welfare in Thailand and in Asia as a whole. There is a population of over 4,000 elephants in captivity here in Thailand and thousands of mahouts and owners trained using the same methods for centuries, in order to change this we must work to educate mahouts and owners and show them the way, leading by example providing sustainable and alternative solutions with the aim of improving the lives of the elephants, the owners and their carers and in the long term the welfare of the elephants as a whole.


A common site whilst doing research out in the camps. A trekking elephant walking the hot roads waiting to give tourists rides, in the front you can see Oxen pulling carts loaded with tourists... Why is this the norm?! Lack of education!

A common site whilst doing research out in the camps. A trekking elephant walking the hot tarmac roads waiting to give tourists rides, in the front you can see Oxen pulling carts loaded with tourists… Why is this the norm?! Quiet possibly lack of education?!

Global March for Elephants and Rhino’s – October 4th at BEES:
October 4th was a lovely day at BEES, we had our own little gathering joined with the GVI- Elephant Reintroduction to the forest program with their interns that came to BEES to share the remarkable day remembering the Elephants and Rhino’s we have lost to the ivory and horn trade. Joined with many thousands of you from around the world we stand united against the ivory and horn trade. United as one and calling on China and Africa and all governments in every country to strengthen their laws and SHUT DOWN THE FACTORIES. To once and for all bring an end to the trade. Until this nonsense stops we will not give up the fight. We are with you!

GMFER celebrated at BEES and joined by our friends from the GVI - Elephant Reintroduction to the forest program Team - It was a great day!

GMFER celebrated at BEES and joined by our friends from the GVI – Elephant Reintroduction to the forest program Team – It was a great day!


Back in February Aussie Film crew from Channel 9 joined us on the Sanctuary:

Most of you would know by now that an Aussie film crew from Channel 9 joined us on the sanctuary for some filming. They where not just at BEES for the elephants, they were actually here following a story regarding myself and Burm the founders of BEES.

The documentary series is called The Embassy: follow them here https://www.facebook.com/TheEmbassy9

The premiere is not to be missed this Sunday on Australia’s Channel 9 at 6.30pm Sydney, Australia time.

BEES feature on The Embassy Sunday Oct 26 6.30pm eastern daylight savings SYDNEY time.


The Elephant Medical Shelter is in progress:
As you all know earlier this year our darling old lady Mae Jumpee fell terribly weak with an intestinal impaction causing her great discomfort. She was unable to defecate or eat for 3 days and veterinarians made an emergency trip out to assess her situation. It was decided that due to the severity of the impaction that she would be rushed to the elephant hospital in a race against time to help her pass the blockage under the supervistion of experienced veterinarians in the fully equipped elephant hospital in Lampang. We did not yet have an area where the elephants could be taken to be assessed and safely secured in an area specifically designed for this kind of treatment. As our facility grows we expect we will have more cases needing medical care and it is so important for us to have an area designated for this onsite that can be kept sterile, have access to water and electricity and be safe for veterinarians and our staff to be able to provide medical care and attention when needed. Thank you to each and every person who has already made a contribution and has been sharing the link to help us reach our goal!

If you can spare a few $$ please donate through my cause:


Boon is flipping and flopping his little trunk every where in excitement about the building of the medical shelter

Boon is flipping and flopping his little trunk every where in excitement about the building of the medical shelter

Please join us on this beautiful journey to improve the lives of the elephants in our care and as many elephants as possible. Together we can make a difference!

Trumpets, grumbles and warm muddy elephant trunks of thanks for your support.

With lots of ele love and Thanks,
Burm, Emily and the Elephants and all of The BEES Team xx


A note from BEES

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

Hello BEES Friends,

It’s been a little while since we wrote our last Blog…. Lots of  things happening here at BEES with the new elephants joining the program, World Elephant Day, Mae Jumpee’s two years at BEES. The BEARS project has also been very busy with new animal rescues, little Paan sadly passing away from suspected FIP a fatal and incurable disease, we have also been providing treatment to village animals and updating our rescues with their vaccinations, worming/de-flea and tick treatments as well. The 1st September we will also be running another sterilization day.

R.I.P Darling baby Paan <3 Passed from suspected FIP a fatal and incurable disease.

R.I.P Darling baby Paan
Passed from suspected FIP a fatal and incurable disease.

Mae Jumpee – Retired two years at BEES on the 16th August:

On the 16th of August 2012 Mae Jumpee was the day we moved beautiful Mae Jumpee by truck to BEES to be retired after a lifetime of working for the tourist trade. It has truly been an incredible two years watching her bond with Mae Kam and learning to just be an elephant, living up the forest life and grazing on lush greenery, chilling out in the grass fields and having the ability to play with mud, exfoliate and scratch whenever she wants too and swim and refresh herself in the creek and big river. We just can’t believe it’s been two years already! What an incredible journey and an amazing accomplishment to have provided Mae Jumpee with sanctuary and a place to rest and just be an elephant for two years already. We couldn’t have achieved this without the help and support of all of you, our wonderful BEES friends.

Mae Jumpee's first day at BEES 16th August 2012

Mae Jumpee’s first day at BEES 16th August 2012

Each and every day is always full of all kinds of ups and downs and endless emotions. It’s heartbreaking working with animals in Asia and seeing the cruel, harsh treatment and often pure neglect of animals on a daily basis. We work passionately to educate locals and tourists to guide them to use more mindful and caring approaches to the animals and act in the best interest of the animal’s welfare, so that the animals can have a better life. We feel in order to teach them to have love and respect for their elephants, we must teach them to love and respect all living things. In order to teach them to love all living things we must lead by example, also running an animal rescue and provide care not just for elephants, but cats, dogs, tortoise and local wildlife rehabilitating and releasing where possible. All living things should have equal rights and should all be loved and have the care and respect they need and deserve.

A tired and overworked elephant in Chiang Mai has pulled her cement boulder attached to her chain out of the ground. NOTE: This picture is NOT taken at BEES.

A tired, overworked and distressed elephant in Chiang Mai stands in her own excrement and has pulled her cement boulder attached to her chain out of the ground. NOTE: This picture is NOT taken at BEES.

As you all know we recently moved two elephants needing help, to join the project for rest, care and recuperation. We are an elephant sanctuary that provides an alternative for elephants and their owners to escape the city life and provide home and sanctuary to all elephants in need by replacing the income of the owner and providing a natural home for his elephant. No Hooks, No Riding, No Tourist Entertainment and No suffering, just having the ability to BE elephants. Many elephants are tired, overworked, injured and retired elephants that just need a place to have a rest and care when they are on a break from working in tourism or to permanently retire too and spend the rest of their days being elephants. The term of stay is at the discretion of their owner, although we aim to work closely with the owners and provide them with an alternative income and to give the elephants this life for as long as possible, ideally permanently.

Lush greenery = Happy Elephants

Lush greenery and a safe place to call home = Happy Elephants

We work tirelessly to educate, raise awareness and help to bring an end to the cruel reality that is animal exploitation all in the name of Tourist Entertainment.

Buying elephants in our minds is currently not an option, one due to lack of funding and two because we must ensure the owners are not going to use the funds to gor out and buy another elephants. We do not want to see another calf be torn from its mother and be imprisoned in a life of work. Often calves we are seeing today have been illegally laundered across the border from Burmese wild populations and enslaved in a life working in the tourism trade in Thailand. We choose not to buy elephants if we feel that the funds would be used to continue this vicious cycle and grueling trade.

Kham Mee and Boon the elephants that have joined the project on rest, care and recuperation are settling in well:

Already we love them both and it makes us smile to see them in their natural element doing what they do best, just being elephants. Just being an elephant is something that very few elephants across Thailand have the ability to do. We hope that the owner will re-sign the contract at the end of the two years so they can stay here permanently.

Kham Mee and Boon first day at BEES.

Kham Mee and Boon first day at BEES.

Let me share with you Kham Mee and Boon’s story:

Kham Mee is an elephant in her early 30’s she has already had three babies. One that was still born, the other that is now out working in the camps and the third Phu Boon her 8 month old son. Kham Mee has spent the last 30 or so years away from her owners and rented out to trekking camps and has been trekking for tourists, carrying heavy loads on her back. She is tired and has been forced to wear heavy trekking gear, her hind toenails have split and her feet abnormally shaped, likely to have been taken from her mother too young and not had enough calcium and with the added weight and stress has caused damage. Kham Mee is an Asian elephant privately owned and one of over 4,000 registered captive elephants in Thailand that suffer severe cruelty and exploitation all in the name of Tourist entertainment.

It is important to understand that the situation in Thailand is complex and due to many different factors such as tradition, lack of education and resources, lack of laws and enforcement and the main one being thousands of uneducated tourists coming to Thailand every year and unknowingly putting $$$ into the trade means we continue to see thousands of Elephants and animals suffer every day at the hands of humans.


A family unit huddles together in a camp in Chiang Mai whilst they have time together. Moments later they ripped aprt and chained on short chains or forced to endure the discomfort of giving tourrists rides. Note: This picture is NOT at BEES, it is taken in a tourist camp in Chiang Mai.

A family unit huddles together in a camp in Chiang Mai whilst they have time together. Moments later they ripped apart and chained on short chains and live in their own excrement or forced to endure the discomfort of giving tourists rides for hours on end.         Note: This picture is NOT at BEES, it is taken in a tourist camp in Chiang Mai.


Tourism $$$ are fueling the elephant and wildlife trade and ultimately the suffering of these amazing animals!

Kham Mee and Boon’s owner asked for help:
Kham Mee gave birth to Phu Boon in a trekking camp in Mae Hong Son. When she was strong enough around 1 month later, the owner decided to walk her from the camp back to his home village where he would keep her on rest and give her a less stressful environment to raise her calf. When the owner Poor Luang Mange, 63 year old brought them home after many years of Kham Mee being away, he realized he just wasn’t as young and fit as he used to be and struggled taking care of them. This was now a full time job for him, he slowed work on his farm and he began to realize that by not sending his elephants to work meant that he no longer had an income. When Phu Boon was showing signs of discomfort in his eye one afternoon after he was playing in amongst bamboo with his mum, Poor Luang Mange asked a friend who knew a vet in Chiang Mai if they could help to heal Boon’s eye. After weeks of treatment with no results, Poor Luang Mange was getting worried that the eye would never heal. He found Mae Kam’s owner Poor Luang Panuu one day and they began chatting about their elephants and Poor Luang Panuu mentioned that his elephant Mae Kam had been with BEES for 2 years now and he just signed another 2 year contract. Poor Luang Mange asked Poor Luang Panuu if he thought we may be able to help. Poor Luang Panuu said you should go and ask, I’m sure they would be happy to help.

He came on the long trip to visit us at the Sanctuary on a motorbike with his Son at the end of May and on the 3rd of June we took the long and windy drive to their village almost 70km away. We took treats of Mango, cucumber and banana for Kham Mee and had a good look at Boon’s eye it was not in a good way. As soon as we met Kham Mee and Boon we knew the owner needed help and we had to get Kham Mee and Boon the help they needed. We organized for veterinarians from TECC Elephant Hospital to go out and meet with Poor Luang Mange and assess Kham Mee and Boon and provide a treatment program for Boon’s eye. It was agreed the best thing for them both was to have some time in a quiet place to rest and recuperate where the eye can be treated and monitored and Kham Mee can finally have a good rest and have some time of freedom so that more serious health issues don’t arise in the near future. It’s certain more severe health issues would have arisen if they were kept in the stressful situation they were in, Poor Luang Mange had no other choice but to hobble Kham Mee’s front feet as she kept breaking off the trees she was tethered too during the night and raiding local farm lands. Making local people very angry and costing Poor Luang Mange the last of his savings from when Kham Mee was working in the camps.

Kham Mee and Boon in the forest in Mae Hong Son, with their owner Poor Luang Mange

Kham Mee and Boon in the forest in Mae Hong Son, with their owner Poor Luang Mange

Kham Mee and Boon move to BEES:
After having made a few visits to check in on Kham Mee and Boon the BEES Team had sprung into action and had finished building a small treatment area and enclosure for Kham Mee and Boon. We put out a call for help and a group of wonderful woman in Australia held a little fundraiser raiser raffle to raise the funds for the truck transfer, treatment costs and a medical treatment area and enclosure. Thank you BEES Australia Team and thank you to all who bought raffle tickets to make Kham Mee and Boon’s rest and treatment possible!!!

Dannielle Haylock from Australia was the lucky winner with ticket number FA0174 and has already accepted her prize of flights and a stay at BEES. Dannielle is already here and enjoying the forest life this week.

CONGRATULATIONS Dannielle! We hope you enjoy your stay!

The lovely Dannielle Haylock winner of BEES Stay 2014 Raffle with Mae Jumpee at BEES.

The lovely Dannielle Haylock winner of BEES Stay 2014 Raffle with Mae Jumpee at BEES.

Kham Mee and Boon arrived at BEES on the 18th July after 2.5 days walking from Mae Hong Song :

It was an amazing 2.5 days walk. The overpowering emotions we felt walking with Kham Mee and Boon was just incredible. Elephants can teach us so much. An elephants love for their family is so strong and Kham Mee without a doubt has eternal love for her calf and would do anything to protect him. On the 15th of July we hired a truck to transfer Kham Mee and Boon to BEES. When the truck arrived everything seemed to be running smoothly when all of a sudden Kham Mee panicked and let out a loud roar that made the earth beneath us vibrate and hurried off into the forest where she had been hobbled with her calf for the last 6 months. We think Kham Mee thought we were taking away her calf and she didn’t understand that we were trying to help here. To not cause her or Boon any more stress we decided it would be better to walk at whatever pace Kham Mee and Boon could walk and it didn’t matter how long it took as long as they where both safe and as stress-free as possible.

Burm greets Boon on his first day in his new home

Burm greets Boon on his first day in his new home

The first day they achieved more than we expected and almost reached the half way point walking down through the mountains starting just before 6am and getting to their stopover place just after 4pm. Kham Mee is a magnificent mum and loves her baby boy Boon so much, keeping him in close and stopping frequently for him to suckle.   Here is the video from the first day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjFg5sHEC54

Day 2 was incredible we experienced almost three seasons in one day, it started off quiet cool in the morning and then by 9am the sun was shining bright and getting a bit hot and steamy at midday the road was starting to get very warm and we were stopping in the shade as frequently as we could. Then right at the perfect time the clouds came over and rained heavily cooling the the road down and relieving Kham Mee and Boon helping them to feel a bit more cool and comfortable and bringing them strength to get to a safe stopover place for the night. Day 2 video is in the making and we will share with you in the coming weeks.

Day 3 started for us at 4.30am driving to their stopover place and starting the walk just after 5.30am. They had been tucked in a bamboo forest and had a lovely rest for the evening and where ready to finally get home to BEES, it was almost as though they could smell their new home in the distance. Getting home in the midmorning of the 18th July after three incredible days of walking up and down mountains through pouring rain and hot sunshine they made it to BEES.

Boon playing with his mumma in the forest. 'Come on Mumma, let's go!' says Boon.

         Kham Mee and Boon enjoy the forest life.        Boon says: ‘Come on Mumma, let’s go!’

Mae Jumpee and Mae Kam meet Kham Mee and Boon:

On the 19th July they were all released together in the grass field after having a good rest. Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee were sniffing the air and trying to figure out what the new smell was. They were both quiet hesitant and almost frightened of Kham Mee and Boon. When Boon approached them for the first time it was almost as though they had seen a little monster. Boon crept up through the tall grass and poked his head out to see Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee, when they saw him  they were startled, causing them both to run the opposite direction like he had frightened them. In the days to follow, they all seemed to stay clear of each other.

Then one morning they had a bit of a sniff before their walk and then they went their separate ways. During the third week Mae Kam was out grazing in the forest and Kham Mee decided she would take Boon to go Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee to try to be friends, whilst Kham Mee and Mae Jumpee were getting to know each other through sniffing and touch. Mae Kam decided she wanted to get to know Boon a bit more and nudged Kham Mee with her trunk and took Boon very gently with her trunk and guided him away with her very quickly, running quiet far from Kham Mee. Kham Mee ran to follow very quickly followed closely by the mahouts, Boon got tired after running nearly a kilometer and slowed down. Kham Mee ran and caught up to her little Boon and embraced him in her trunk, sniffing him gently to make sure he was okay and letting out a low almost angry puff and grumble, swinging her trunk towards Mae Kam as if to say stay away from my baby.

We think Mae Kam was tired after her attempt to take on Boon as her own and not being successful. She seemed disappointed she couldn’t have Boon and when she went back to her night area she lay down for about 45 minutes and wouldn’t eat, almost like what we believe were signs of depression. It’s important to remember that these elephants when they are calves were ripped away from their mothers, abused and had their spirits broken, they are not allowed to express natural behavior and often exhibit stereotypical behaviors (swaying back and forth) because they are chained on short chains and deprived of appropriate diet, natural stimulation and sociability, the life time of heart ache can cause phycological issues also and it can take time for them to heal and adapt.

Mae Kam was likely force bred, her first offspring was ‘still’ born and her second lived until he was three years old and just before he would have been ripped away from Mae Kam for training he was killed by a nasty bite from a king cobra. We believe Mae Kam tried to take Boon as her own as her behaviour was not aggressive towards him, she didn’t seem like she was going to cause any harm and she looked as though she was protecting him.

This to us, just shows the incredible memory of elephants and intelligence of these majestic and sentient beings that have love, experience loss, grieve and suffer from what we can relate to as depression, the maternal love of a mother and her calf is so strong  and the love they share between family units is what can be described as  pure love, hapiness and joy. They are so incredibly similar to humans when a child, a friend, a parent, a sibling, an aunt/uncle, a grandparent  passes, elephants similar to humans are deeply sensitive and compassionate beings that show emotions, shed tears and use touch and vocalisation to express these emotions which can be can relate to great sadness and even greive when a loved one is lost. It can take time, new love and friendships to help in the healing process, the pain and memories will always be there but like with humans, we learn to move on with time and through the help and support of our friends and family.

Mae Kam bounced back fairly quickly Mae Jumpee was close by and after her 45 minute lay down we offered her food and water and she responded well, she gave us quiet the scare. In the days to follow she was very quiet and didn’t seem to want to venture too far from the grass fields, she was quiet and it seemed to us as though she was depressed,  almost like it wasn’t that long ago and she had just lost her calf and was heartbroken. We think it may have brought back memories for her and feelings that over time heal and that she remembers her young and it’s difficult for her, like it would be for any mum who has loved and lost a child. They do say an elephant never forgets! Mae Kam was back to herself within a few days. It seems as though Mae Jumpee has taken a liking to Kham Mee and Boon and has tried to bond with them but if Mae Jumpee tries to get close to Kham Mee and Boon, Mae Kam keeps pulling Mae Jumpee back to her, almost as if to say she is my friend and you can’t have her.

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee have a chat about the two new elephants

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee have a chat about the two new elephants!

Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee are inseparable, when Mae Jumpee had to be trucked to TECC elephant hospital earlier in the year Mae Kam was nearly beside herself with worry and searched for Mae Jumpee every day and was so happy when she came home.


BEARS Animal Rescue and Shelter update:

There has been a lot going on in the land of BEARS, many new rescues since the last Blog and also the sad passing of our darling boy Paan. All the newest rescues are doing well. The tortoises are living it up on the wild picked mushrooms we are picking daily for them. The dogs are loving the mud and love to run and play in the rain. Our darling disabled girl Mollie loves to play boss and tries to chase around the big dogs and always wears herself out.  We will be heading into Chiang Mai hopefully in the next two weeks to the hardware store and to buy fencing for the new dog shelter.

Thank you all so much for following our progress and for being part of the building blocks of our little sanctuary here in rural Thailand. Together we can make a difference!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Kind Regards,

The BEES and BEARS Team xx

All Photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary


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