A pair of elephants held as slaves for up to 80 years have been set free to enjoy their lives in Thailand.
Boonme and Buabaan have spent the bulk of their lives in the logging and elephant-trekking industries, where they were forced to work till exhaustion while chained.
After a large fundraising effort, they were finally set free by their owners and released to Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
The moment elephants were kept as slaves for up to 80 years were finally released to roam free in Thailand
With the assistance of YouTube vlogger and filmmaker Christian Leblanc, 23, from Canada, the rescue was made possible. He assisted in raising thousands of dollars to pay for their release.
Boonme, 80, and Buaban, 50, now spend the majority of their time wallowing in the river or eating fresh fruit and vegetables.
It’s a long way from the hellish conditions they were forced to endure for years.
‘Now the elephants are overjoyed,’ Chrystal said. ‘They’ve made a new best buddy named BaiCha, and as a trio, they’re inseparable.’
But they would have been giving many people rides on their backs every day before we set them free.
After a major funding campaign, they have finally been freed from their owners and released into Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
Boonme was so exhausted that she collapsed and had to be lifted by a crane to return to work.
‘That’s when we knew something had to be done.’
Christian’s crew drove for 15 hours to Surin, a town on the Thai-Myanmar border to get to the pair.
The elephants were carried back to the Elephant Nature Park in customized trucks in a 23-hour journey.
The operation is part of Christian’s forthcoming documentary “Black Tusk,” which aims to educate tourists about the cruelty behind Thailand’s current elephant-trekking industry.
The elephants were purchased for thousands of dollars before being transported to the Elephant Nature Park in custom made trucks
‘Elephants are also quite sociable, like people, so they become extremely agitated whenever they are treated similarly to humans in trekking camps or elephant entertainment parks.
‘You may observe them swaying from side to side as well, and they not only allow our cries of sorrow and despair but also respond with their own.
‘It’s horrible to witness, but I’m grateful I did since it brought me here,’ said Chrystal.
‘We hope that by demonstrating the cruelty that elephants suffer, we can assist in reforming these animals and pave the way for responsible elephant tourism.”