Mae Kam is the first elephant to join BEES under 1 year retirement contract in May 2012. Mae Kam had spent over 50 years of her life working in logging and then in trekking after logging was banned in the late 1980′s. When Mae Kam joined trekking she was not happy and during her life she had a still born calf and her second calf was 3 years old when he died from a king cobra bite. Mae Kam became very distressed after the loss of her second calf and after a while to dangerous to work in the trekking camps. Her owner chained her in the forest above his farm for roughly 18months as he couldn’t work her, she kept shaking tourists off her back and the mahouts in the camp began to beat her badly causing her to scar with massive welts on her bottom that she still has today. When Mae Kam joined the project we never knew where it would lead us and we managed to get the owner to resign the contract keeping Mae Kam in sanctuary under contract for nearly 3 years. In May 2015 the owner had requested to take Mae Kam home for a ceremony, Mut murr suu kwam – To bless the elephant and bring happiness to the elephant, family and the village she was born in. Mae Kam had not left BEES for nearly 3 years and although at the time we had said it may not be the best idea Mae Kam’s owner was insistent she needed to go. They got 2 hours down the road and her owner was riding her, she shook and threw him off her back, sending him to hospital with serious head injuries and a broken vertebrae. Mae Kam was immediately walked back to BEES and in the weeks to follow the owner and the family had said that they wished to sell Mae Kam and gave us a month to find the funds other wise they would sell her onto a trekking. They no longer wanted to work with elephants, the owner was getting to old and was left very shaken after the fall. In an amazing 13 days BEES friends from all around the word donated the funds to secure Mae Kam’s freedom and now Mae Kam can forever be in her sanctuary. Now she spends her days grazing in the forest, just being an elephant!
Note: BEES are very careful with the purchase of elephants, some owners who are handed a massive amount of funds will go out and use the funds to buy two more baby elephants and work them in tourism trade. We cannot support this and further the trade, we try to rent where we can to provide an alternative income for the families but not give them the funds to buy more elephants, in the case we are buying an elephant we get to now the owners first and do our absolute best to make sure they are not going to use the funds to further the trade. We work to provide alternatives and solutions to a complex problem. Sometimes we have to let elephants go if owners are not interested in move away from abusing and exploiting elephants further, we cannot be a part of funding further trade, we MUST be a part of the solution.
Mae Jumpee is our second elephant and we are also renting her to keep her from working. She joined the program in August 2012 only 2.5 months after Mae Kam joined the program. Mae Jumpee has worked in the Tourism industry for a very long time, in her earlier years she worked in logging. Her back is misshapen from hard work and her breasts are very large from long periods of suckling her calves. During her approximately 70 years Mae Jumpee’s owners have said she had 11 calves. Her skin tears very easily and she is a very worn-out old lady who needs lots of love and attention. We rent Mae Jumpee because it provides the family with an income and they are not yet ready to give up working with elephants. This way Mae Jumpee can have the freedom she deserves and the family can earn an income they would otherwise make if Mae Jumpee was to work in the camps. UPDATE: On March 2nd 2017, Mae Jumpee’s family relocated her to a non-riding camp to be company for her daughter.
The Golden Girls: Thong Dee and Boon Yuen
In November 2014 the Golden Girls owner contacted BEES to ask if we would take on the care of his 2 elderly and poorly elephants Thong Dee and Boon Yuen both in there 50′s/60′s. Poor Tawee has spent near 30 years by Thong Dee and Boon Yuen’s side. The day he left them at BEES was a hard day for him and quiet possibly for his girls too. He was saying Good bye for some time when he had usually spent everyday with them.
He loved our place BEES and said he would love to come and stay here with them if he didn’t feel he had a responsibility to care for his mum. Poor Tawee’s father passed in October 2014, leaving his elderly mother all alone with no one to care for her. Poor Tawee has a big heart and cares about the elephants so much, his wife had already moved to the home of his mother earlier in November, taking with her their dog and a few clothes.
The Golden Girls both had very poorly digestive systems and worn teeth. We developed a supplemental diet, bought in vitamins and a food shredder, gave them shredded diet to help them get the nutrients they needed. They both have had good days and bad, the bad days involved removing large blockages in the intestinal tract. The tourism and logging industry took so much of there lives and they were both left scarred and physically damaged. On Wednesday 29th July 2015, as rain drops fell darling Boon Yuen closed her eyes for the last time and laid at peace surrounded by many that loved her, in her sanctuary.
The story of our sweet Boon Yuen’s passing is here.
Boon Yuen left the remaining Golden Girl Thong Dee behind and a very heart broken Poor Tawee.
Poor Tawee decided Thong Dee should never leave BEES. In the months to follow we started a fundraising campaign to support Poor Tawee to have a Happy retirement and give Thong Dee the permanent natural home she deserves at BEES so she can spend the rest of her days grazing in the green grasses not to far from her beloved Boon Yuen’s resting place.
If you would like to donate to sponsor an elephant at BEES please donate via Simply Giving here (Reference – Sponsoring Mae Kam, Mae Jumpee or Thong Dee when making your donation)
Trumpets, rumbles and grumbles of Thanks for your support!
All Photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary – Please do not download without permission.