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

Written by Em. Posted in bees blog

Happy New Year from The BEES Team!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lush greenery = Happy Elephants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With lots of ele love,
The BEES Team xxx


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 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.

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

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


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