Monday, April 19, 2010

The Amazing Lek

In Thailand, elephants are everywhere. You see them on buildings, on clothing, in paintings, on tee shirts, in photographs. I considered collecting images of various elephant items for a blog entry. But that was before we visited the elephant sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai ( and learned that many, many pachyderms in the region do not enjoy the repose of the happy chappy above. In fact, lots are subjected to heart-breaking, horrific abuse. Those suffering animals remain very much on my mind.

This little lady (above) looks like she is taking a dump but in fact lives with a broken hip that never healed properly after she was forced (unsuccessfully) to procreate in a confined place with a very aggressive male. This is just one of the many stories we heard from our guide. Others were even worse.

Fortunately the 34 elephants who live at the sanctuary spend their days roaming freely, bathing in the river (complete with spa treatments by their personal mahouts) and eating loving prepared meals several times a day.

Here is lunch for Tong Suk.

Open wide!

Down the hatch!

The amazing Lek, the founder of the sanctuary, with one of the two baby elephants born at her center.

Basking in the sun at Lek's sanctuary.

So why is it that Thailand champions the elephant in concept but abuses them in practice? Where is the respect and appreciation for these majestic beings?

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